Sunday, November 20, 2011

SEIU 500

Back in February I hustled down to DC to conduct a handful of interviews for the ‘Junct documentary.  During the course of that weekend DLS was asked by AL of SEIU 500 CAL to be the keynote speaker for their 3rd annual forum in DC.  That was this weekend.  I find it amazing how quick these things have been sneaking up on us.
Roughly two weeks ago I get the email from my partner reminding me of the event and how her wish was to incorporate more clips from the doc into her keynote speech.  Initially she had wanted to speak for 20, screen for 20 and for the last 20 field questions.  Over the course of the two weeks it morphed into a speak, clip, speak, clip format.  Which was far more manageable for me since the bulk of footage I have is comprised of interviews and not much in the way of fancy B-roll. Twenty minutes of solid interviews would have been a snooze fest, despite the fact that the audience is very much invested in the subject.  I’m glad the twenty minute block was scrapped early on.
I got the clips pulled after work on Wed/Thurs night of this past week, rendering out a couple thumbnails for DLS to preview to see where we could trim the fat.  We had roughly 25 segments that she wanted to address during her speech but got it down to 15 after weeding a few out and combining others.  The runtime however clocked in at 30 minutes and it was midnight on Thursday, we had to lock it down.  I set it to render and right before the day job I built the DVD menu.  I hit the burn button and left for work, hoping the DVD would be done and playable by the time I got in that night.  Otherwise I knew I’d have my laptop set up in the backseat of my truck on my commute to DC.
Luckily it worked.  I quickly gathered my crap and took off for Philly to pick up DLS before trekking down to DC.  We managed to get turned around a couple times before finally finding the hotel at 10pm.
“Look kids...white circle...”
Morning came too soon.  I’m impressed with the fact that I managed to brush my teeth and hair.  I looked *almost* human as I schlepped my gear into the SEIU building at 10am.  We managed to find some seating in the back of the conference room, but not together.  We had a professor, in his forties, wedged between us.  He teaches economics, at I think AU.  His day job is working for the big bad government.  This shouldn’t have surprised me considering we were in DC, but it was still pretty cool reading his business card and seeing the embossed ‘The Library of Congress’ emblem on it.  I tweet and FB status this revelation, which only solidifies what a nerd I am.
The panels were interesting.  One woman was talking a little about her archeology work in Pompeii (no pictures unfortunately) and how one college capped the amount of classes contingent can take on during a typical semester.  Because of it she was having difficulty affording the month long digs in Italy.
Another talked about the inroads she was making expanding the LGBT studies at one of the local colleges.  She did this really cool spoken word piece comparing contingent faculty to sex workers.  I’m hoping to get a copy of that speech or better, video of her performing that piece.  This chick is seriously bad ass.  Hopefully she won’t kick my ass for posting her picture ‘Wonder woman with a hard on’ and linking to her site.
Photo of Loraine Hutchins taken by Sharon Farmer
By the time we got to the keynote speech the forum was running roughly an hour behind.  It really wasn’t a big deal in my opinion and I think it’s all too common at these things to linger behind.  DLS adapted her speech a bit after listening to the other panels and we ended up running through 5-6 segments instead of the full 15.  We were pretty sure people were starving by this point, so we wrapped as quick as we could to avoid the pitchforks and torches!
We grabbed food and wrapped up round table style with about 12 people, discussing the movement and how to raise awareness.  It was interesting listening to their different analogies and discussing strategies.  In that informal little gathering it didn’t really matter if you were part of the union or some other organization.  In fact they let it slide that I wasn’t an educator.  Now that’s pretty cool...
Next up DC at the end of Jan.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

SEIU forum THIS weekend in Washington DC

I know I promised a blog on my lost weekend, but after about two paragraphs it fizzled out.  It might be something best saved for another time or perhaps not for the masses.  I guess it all boils down to inspiration.
Anyway, we will be down in DC this weekend promoting ‘Junct.  My partner DLS is the keynote speaker for this years SEIU500 forum.  She will be touching on a number of subjects that will be covered in the documentary along with the current political climate and the OWS movement.  She will also be fielding questions afterwards.
Information on this years SEIU forum can found here and I believe it is free and open to the public.  You don’t need to be an educator to attend the conference.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things that begin with the letter M: Music/Marketing (the P21 experience)

After talking to one of my crew members over the weekend he made a pretty valid point about blogging my perspective on the festival as a team captain.  So here I am, doing that blogging thing.  I figure I'm overdue for some sort of update and while the documentary is still chugging along, there is really nothing to report on the subject.  At least nothing substantial in my opinion.

This is the third year my crew and I have taken part in Project Twenty 1 (Go check out their website for information on the competition).  In a way this has become old hat for us.  The schedule is usually posted around the time registration opens up and we do not deviate from it.  I’m pretty sure my cast and crew call me a tyrant behind my back during those three weeks as I screamed and carried on about not straying from the schedule.  The only change that was implemented was a private facebook group one week prior to the launch date.
The group was comprised of potential cast and crew members that I had worked with in the past.  During the week before the kick off event all of us tossed out ideas that could be turned into a short film, I posted the locations that were available, odd props and access to vehicles.  I also whittled down the group once I knew who in and who was out.  This worked out rather nice and by the time of the launch we had roughly 20 different ideas and a solid crew of 21.
By the time the kickoff event rolled around we were prepared for the element.  At least we thought we were.  When they announced the element was ‘starts with a crash’ the entire crew had a WTF look on their face for a solid two minutes.  Mainly because we were expecting ‘starts with a crash INSERT REAL ELEMENT HERE’.  After we wrapped our brains around the crash being THE element we got back into the game.  I’m guessing we should be thankful that we were all sober at the time and didn’t smoke pot because we’d probably still be sitting there at the bowling alley right now, staring blankly at each other, trying to figure out what the element was.

Adam~ “Club 27?”
Brad~ “Yeah, Club 27 idea...”
Charlie~ “What’s that?”
Brad~ “The Amy Winehouse one.”
Charlie~ “Oh...”
Adam~ “What? Too soon?”
Charlie~ “No,wait, what was that about again?”
Adam~ “The rockstars that bought it at age know Joplin, Cobain, Morrison, Hendrix and that other guy...Brian something...lying in bed, just like Brian Wilson not him.  I think this guy was in the Mama and the Papas.”
Brad~ “Jones, Brian Jones the guitarist for the Rolling Stones.”
Adam~ “Yeah, him...and now Amy Winehouse.”
Charlie~ “Are you sure that’s a good idea?  She just died the other day and the autopsy reports aren’t back yet.  What if it wasn’t drug related?”
Adam~  “Does it really matter? She’s dead...and 27.”
Alright, the dialogue didn’t go exactly down like that and I have no idea who Adam, Brad and Charlie are, but you get the idea.  The crew that made the trek up to Lucky Strikes quickly decided post element reveal to bail for some place quiet with diner food.  Personally I hate loud places where it requires me to scream like Edith Bunker at the person sitting next to me.  That shit gets old quick and is one of the primary reasons I remain in my editing cave on networking nights.  I want to actually hear the person I’m having a conversation with, not get every third word and wake up with a bitching sore throat the next morning.
During this time we had one major issue to resolve, that was finding the main character to play our dead rockstar Trent.  One of the crew members managed to coax someone over so we could talk to the guy.  I did my best to explain the premise of the short but the more I talked the more I felt as if I were recruiting him to join a cult and not star in a film.
Once we got situated at the diner a few blocks over we tag teamed the idea.  The question of the evening was what determines ‘rock star status’.  That’s when everyone pulled out their phones to post/text the expert on the subject; my mom.
Sad, but true.  Ask anyone who knows her.  She’s cooler than Christopher Walken reading ‘goodnight moon’ and Samuel L. Jackson reading ‘Go the fuck to sleep’ combined.
David~ “That guy you talked to to play Trent. You get his information?”
Eddie~ “Uh, no...but I gave him mine.”
Eddie~ “Awww...crap.  That guy is so not adding me on facebook tonight.”
David~ “We probably scared him when we surrounded him like vultures.”
Eddie~ “He did sort of look like we were asking him to drink the koolaid, didn’t he?”
David~ “He’s so not calling...”
Eddie~ “” *pauses*  “I wonder if it would made a difference if we told him we didn’t have it in the budget for the matching sweats and”
David~  “Okay, we need a back up Trent.  Ideas?”
After we were watered and fed we had a pretty good idea the structure of ‘Club 27’.  I left it up to one of the writers on the crew to bang out a rough draft for the following morning.  I had it waiting in my inbox by 10am the next day.  Another writer tossed in his ideas before finally the last writer laid down the gauntlet.  What I found interesting was seeing how one idea could spark so may different tones just between the writers yet be the same plot.
During the week I did get confirmation from the guy I had networked with during the kickoff event.  From the correspondences I was pretty sure we didn’t scare him off and he sounded pretty excited once he read the script.  Unfortunately, a family emergency came up and his role was regretfully recast.  He turned out to be a pretty cool dude and hopefully I’ll get the chance to work with him on a future project.
With New-Trent in place it was a go for the first shoot weekend.  We had a few hiccups, like tracking down our ‘Janis’ and ‘Hendrix’ for fittings pre-shoot and finding hillbilly attire for Trent.  Though a majority of us grew up during the grunge era we have since thrown out our flannels.  Big mistake.  Luckily for us one of our newer crew members owns a shop: Church of Vintage which deals in vintage threads.  She has since received the moniker ‘Wardrobe Goddess’ because she rocks that much.  I can’t begin to tell you how awesome it is to have access to that much stuff.
Hendrix Attire ~ Check
Cobain Attire ~ Check
Joplin Attire ~ Check
Cow Costume ~ Wait, what?
The cow costume came from one of the other crew members.  It had been in the trunk of their car for quite some time and we figured why not.  Trent’s day job could be working for a Chick-Fil-A knock off named Big Slab O’ Cow as a sign holder.  we even made a page for it on facebook.
TRENT in a cow costume, holding up a sign advertising some sort of restaurant. Two HOODLUMS start harassing him, and he hits them with a sign.
TRENT, still in his cow costume, having his mugshot taken.
While this scene was funny we had a problem, only one hoodlum to beat him up.  In my opinion it wasn’t funny enough.  Then I remembered the lobster costume I had in storage.  Don’t ask why, I just do, okay?  The person who was my hoodlum had no idea I found the costume and that he would be wearing it until a few minutes prior to the shoot.  I refer to him as my MPB (Multi-Purpose Bitch), my gaffer to actor.  The difficult part was not convincing him to get into costume but trying to find queen-sized black stockings that weren’t see through.
Franco~  “Actually these tights are quiet comfortable...”

We ended up doing that particular scene in two takes.  The first nearly caused a fender bender when some little old blue hair slammed on her breaks and the second had amassed a crowd of roughly 20 illegal immigrants.  I wasn’t pressing my luck with a third take. Plus, it was the first shoot of the second day.  Bigger fish to fry, or chickens to pluck in our case.

During the course of that weekend we were winging Trent’s song.  My cousin had only done the chorus at that point and our reference was a cell phone message for the harmonies.  It proved to be a challenge for him and considering the lower back pain I’m feeling right now I’m beginning to think he might have constructed a voodoo doll.
Grace~ “You down for making some music for the film.”
Harry~  “What do you have?”
Grace~ *Brief Synopsis* “So, I need a country song...”
Harry~ “Does it have to be country.”
Grace~ “Yes, but it has to be a shitty country song.”
Harry~ “Aren’t all country songs shitty?”
Harry~ “Fine.  I’ll see what I can do.”  *Grumbles*
Not only did he put together a shitty country song, he managed to weave in the lobster battle.  I was told it took him nearly 30 takes to sing the lobster line without laughing.  I made sure in post that I placed that line in during Trent’s accident scene.
The shoot took a total of two days.  We were wrapped by Sunday at 6.  The cast and crew went home and I started post.  This was the first time I shot with two cameras.  I had my trusty SD panasonic DVC-30 for audio as well as back up and I had purchased a Canon 7D (outfitted with a lens EFS 17-85mm I had for my previous camera) a week before the shoot.  I wasn’t sure how the footage was going to turn out on the Canon and I didn’t want to rely on the native audio.  It was too big of a risk and while I shot I had horrible visions of blurry footage due to the lens unforgivable depth of field.  I didn’t even want to think about the sound.  Overall, the footage was great and the sound was ass.  I spent an entire weekend syncing audio and then spent two nights after work ripping all the audio from the paramedic scene.  I pulled in one of the actors for his voice over and for the one that couldn’t make it I had another friend step in to do his voice.  It took 3 takes for both of them to nail the audio.
Audio clean up

With the film in the can we set our sights on marketing.  I really didn’t think we had a shot of being in the running for the award and unfortunantly some of our best stuff never saw the light of day.
  • We created a profile for Margaret Maines (aka Trent’s biggest fan) on facebook.  Gave the entire team the email and password to log in and see how many people we could friend.  Everyone worked on her profile, chatted with people, added games... (Okay, it was just me that added the games).  We made her birthday the same day as the P21 awards ceremony.  She currently has 66 friends.  Not bad for being imaginary.

  • Our graphic design god made up really cool posters which we rolled out the week before the screening.

  • We killed Trent off the morning of September 31.  One of my crew members made up a CNN-looking webpage with the hopes people would RT it.
  • Interviews with the cast and crew about who their music idols were (Found Here at 2255Films fan site on facebook).
  • a trailer which made the previous years entries look like comedies (they weren't)
  • Made up demo CDs of the ‘Ain’t Life Grand’ song to hand out at events prior to the premier.  The CD sleeves also included business cards of the people that worked on the film as well as the postcards to promote the screening.

  • Swag bags for the cast and crew.  The bags included the DVD, poster, coffee mug and these light up clappy hand things my mom found at the dollar store.  It’s the little things in life that keep us amused.  

Isaac~ *Holds up clappy hands*  “Shiny!”
Jessica~  “I knew when I saw them I HAD to buy them.  I know you said 16 but I bought more than that.”
Little did I know the original Susie Filmmaker liked them too (original pictures courtesy of @ice2cu):

Anyway, we were nominated for Best Music and Best Marketing at P21 (Results here).  It was pretty cool despite it not being a win.  My cast and crew made a fun film with little drama and as far as I know we are all still on speaking terms.  I call that a win.  Now wake me up when it’s July 2012.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

'Junct Update

Brain is fried so check out this clip.
UPDATE:  Information to help can be found here at the latest entry of 'The Homeless Adjunct'.  Please RT and forward to those that may be in a position to help.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A much needed update of randomness

Since I appear to have a few minutes of downtime, or rather my inability to commit to working on the latest project I will give a semi-brief update on all that is 2255 films.  If that isn’t some convoluted fragmented sentence I don’t know what is!
Anyway, the next round of interviews for ‘Junct are scheduled for next weekend.  I am currently waiting on DLS to send a confirmation email in regards to this.  Hopefully, it will be a one day shoot like Philly a couple months back and relatively close.  At this rate I see a RC being finished some time around the end of the year.  Would be nice to have something together for the NFM gathering in January to screen.  I believe it will be in Seattle in 2012.
Had a bit of a hiccup about two weeks back when my main editing machine took a dump.  It took 3 days and under 200 bucks but it lives for another day.  I had been told by the Apple guys for it’s age it had a pretty good run and I should be happy that was it’s furst visit to the Apple doctors.  They also called it ‘vintage’ when I arrived at the store.  I believe that was a nice way of saying:  You really should replace that old piece of shit!  Still, I’m glad it didn’t come to that.  The thought of dropping over 2 grand right before this year’s P21 made me violently ill.
During the downtime I shot a short with Frank J of Frank’s Horrors.  Even before the HD fail on the mac I had decided to try something new this time.  I recorded the audio but shot stills with my digital camera.  If all goes as intended the final product will have a comic book feel to it.  So far I’ve edited roughly 35 stills on the PC using photoshop and it’s by far the most interesting thing I’ve done in post.  I’m hoping once it’s finished I’ll be able to secure an IMDb credit for Frank and the actors.  Working with them was a unique experience and I’m looking forward to having them on set for P21.
Set up the 2255 Films facebook group as well.  Where I’ll be posting more up to date 140 characters or less updates.  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Social Life or time vortex?!?

In either case I seemed to have missed the entire month of April and just about all of May as well.  I will try my best to give a recap on what’s been going on as far as ‘Junct is concerned.
In late April I shot in the city of brotherly love, in particular the section of Fitler Square.  I had never even heard of the neighborhood prior to the interview but had been told by my partner in crime it was a high rent district.  After doing a little research we found out the cheapest home runs at about 1.25 Mil.  Must be nice to have that kind of scratch!  I really wish I had thought to have gotten a picture of the interior.  It reminded me of a museum.
The person we interviewed on that day is a tenured professor at a local university (he has since retired as of this post).  The man had a rather interesting viewpoint on higher education but what really got my attention was a story he was telling us about his time in the deep south during the civil movement.  Though it doesn’t pertain at all to ‘Junct I let the tape roll.  It was fascinating, but probably because I wasn’t even born yet!  Anyway, the interview was short and sweet (clocking in around 35 minutes).  Hopefully it will be something we can use in the final cut.
DLS managed to wrangle one of her past student into shooting more protest footage at Temple as well.  I have yet to get my hands on the footage but I’m sure it is something I can work with.  Slowly things are coming together.  Realistically I see ‘Junct wrapping in it’s entirety by the end of the year (barring catastrophes and meltdowns).  I’m thinking once a rough cut is done having a preview party at my place.  My intention is to get some of my harshest critic friends to sit in with notepads to pick it apart.  It will probably get pretty ugly during that session but it is a necessary evil in my opinion.  I’m not about to make a film that sucks major ass or puts people to sleep.
Next course of action I see is beginning to work on pulling it all together.  We still have only interviews (save the protest footage) so it really needs to get punched up to keep it from being a complete snooze fest.  On my wish list right now I would like to get a few more interviews (politicians, college administration staff, someone conservative), two interns for fall semester (a 2D animator and graphic designer) and footage shadowing an adjunct professor for the fall as well.  I think if I get those things we will be damn close to getting ‘Junct in the can.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The five stages of no budget Filmmaking

I’ve been mulling over this thought during the day job for several months now and while it hasn’t been perfected I thought I would post it just the same.  It’s roughly modeled after the 5 stages of grief, but hopefully, a bit more humorous.
  • Denial~ Otherwise known as the honeymoon phase of filmmaking.  This brief period of time occurs when you first decide to make a film. You run out, buy a bunch of equipment and video tape your cat, ferret, idiot sibling trying to open a childproof bottle of aspirin.  As you preview that ‘hilarious’ you tube buzz worthy footage you declare yourself a budding filmmaker.
“Look out Lucas, Ford and Coppola! All your Oscars belong to us!”
  • Anger~ You have a few short films under your belt, but not setting the world on fire.  Any constructive criticism is instantly considered an attack on your artistic vision.  People obviously aren’t cerebral enough to ‘get’ the material and your talent is being wasted on knuckle dragging neanderthals who’d be more content watching season 16 of Jersey Shore: Seaside Heights Retirement Village where Nonni Snookie get’s the beat down from Pauly D’s walker. 
Something is telling me I probably shouldn’t have been able to pull their names out of thin air like that.
  • Bargaining~ A few more films have been created and you are slowly getting ‘it’.  Not all of the films are going to be epic.  In fact a few of them you’d soon rather forget.  Lessons have been learned, however painful they might have been.  You are now on a barter system with people.  Actors actually get decent food on set.  In exchange for a location the business gets a plug in the credits.  Life it good.
To local business owner: How important is that wall over there?  Do you REALLY need it?
  • Depression~ This happens when you wake up one morning and total up your expenses towards this ‘hobby’.  You instantly slip into a near catatonic state when you start delving deeper into filmmaking; legally and technically.  You are far beyond compositions and the happy little white balance button on your camera.  You are now juggling scheduling, re-writes, casting, location scouting, catering, crew, equipment, etc...etc...  You are overwhelmed, over budget and can’t remember the last time you slept more than four hours or ate something that wasn’t in a wrapper.  Overall you haven’t even scratched the surface on all that is filmmaking.
  • Acceptance~  Despite the odds being stacked against you you’ve come to realize you wouldn’t want it any other way.  You’re finally able to tell the difference between constructive criticism and ‘haters’.  Overall you embrace each project regardless of the outcome, but hope you are in that 1% that make a difference.
“I shot a film over the weekend.  What did you do?”

Friday, March 25, 2011

Videos are online!

I know, I know, they aren't posted here in my blog.  Only because they are quite content on the new site and I didn't want them getting lost as I continued to blog here.

Click your heels three times as you click on this link once.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A not so funny thing happened on the way to the Left Forum

In the famous words of Captain Kirk all I can say is:

Needless to say things didn't go as expected.  Next time I'm hiring Hannibal Smith to make sure everything goes according to plan.

Monday, March 14, 2011

New York, New York

T-minus 6 days until the left forum screening in NYC at Pace University.  Am I ready for it? No.  I spent the better part of the weekend reviewing the footage I had shot in LA and DC trying to make some sense of it all.  As it stands I believe that DLS will be talking a bit during the forum and then we will roll a clip of an interview that pertains to what she is saying.
Rinse, repeat for approximately 15-20 minutes.

It isn’t exactly the solution I had in mind but given the deadline drawing in close it’s either that or I reenact with shadow puppets.

I think once I get through the forum I will be able to take a bit of a breather and possibly go be somewhat sociable in Philly at the next MPEG gathering.  I’ll gather a bit of intel on what’s going on and possibly nail down some actors to help craft Junct.  I could message some of these potential actors via FB but I think it would behoove me to actually talk to these people in a social setting.  Last thing I need is to get trapped with some stick in the mud for a weekend shoot.  The cool thing about the next networking meeting is it will be held at Asylum Arena.  Which means I finally can put to good use the Mexican wrestling mask I have.

Just got off the phone with DLS and I should be getting her video clip wishlist before midnight.  I plan on pulling all the clips and hopefully before week’s end we will have whittled them down to a couple for audio and color correcting.  I was informed the equipment has been secured for the panel so that should lighten the load a bit for NYC.  I should find out in a couple of days if I need to bring my film equipment up as well.  Hopefully not.  Only because I want to get my fill of rice pudding afterwards.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fear and Loathing

I had entertained the thought of doing a video post but decided everyone was better off if I didn’t.  I’m currently sitting here at my editing desk in my flannel cocktail PJs which is basically one step up from a snuggie while drinking hot chocolate.  No one needs to see that, especially since I can’t seem to get yesterday’s eyeliner and mascara off of my face.
In my last entry I was feeling pretty optimistic about the documentary. Now, not so much.  The more I’ve thought on it the more I know it is seriously lacking in *something*.  I spent the weekend talking to friends and taking in some of their suggestions as far as documentaries as concerned.  I watched three of them this afternoon back to back and slowly but surely things are beginning to sink in.
I truly believe that Junct can be this wonderfully eye-opening piece if executed properly.  It’s all a matter of finding that one character that the audience can relate to. Right now it just feels so ‘Wah me!’ right now.  The audience is NOT going to care about some teachers getting the shaft because honestly in this economy everyone that can be classified as middle America is taking it in the ass.  Just last night a good friend was closing the doors to her coffee shop after 14 years of business.
My biggest fear right now...Hell I can’t even narrow it down to one.  At this stage it feels like just about anything and everything can go wrong.  I think what bothers me the most is that each tape has interesting stuff on it but I can’t see the big picture.  I don’t know what Junct is going to be just yet.  Is it a union movement film?  A film focused on the complete failure that is higher education? Is it something that has yet to reveal itself?
I’m slowly buying a clue about the legalities in regards to filming a documentary and it doesn’t seem to be as strict as filming a narrative.  I just am afraid that I’m not going to be able to walk that fine line.  I’m either going to push the boundaries to the point where later on down the road I get bit in the ass over a legal technicality or I’m not going to push hard enough and not capture footage integral for telling the story because I’m afraid of getting sued.
In the meantime I’m in a holding pattern waiting for the next round of interviews.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No were not filming porn.

I think I’ve pretty much recovered from the DC, NYC, Quebec City trifecta this past week.  The worst of my traveling is over until May when I head off to Italy for 11 days.  In the meantime I will just be commuting up to NYC on Wednesdays to attend class and to be on the ‘Working in (commercialized) Higher Education’ panel at the Left Forum in late March.  As of the moment of this writing I don’t have any other scheduled trips for Junct.
A fair amount has transpired since my last entry and I will do my best to cover the shoot in DC as well as some of the behind the scenes stuff that occurred on my end.
The shoot in DC was fairly cut and dry.  I arrived the night before after driving to Greenbelt station and from there taking the metro in to Woodley Park.  I freely admit that I’m a cheap bitch and when I saw the hotel was charging 40 dollars per day to park I threw up a little in my mouth. I was not about to blow what could potentially be as much as 120 bucks for my truck to collect dust for three days.  What I didn’t know beforehand was that Greenbelt station not only charges for parking but they do not take cash or credit cards.  I was forced into purchasing a permanent metro card (that had a nice little 5 dollar convenience fee attached to it) and then had to deal with mass confusion when I tried to figure out at their kiosk how to add money to the card so I could get my truck out of hock that Sunday.  I’m now the proud owner of a DC Metrocard with 25 bucks on it.
Did I mention that math is not a strong suit of mine?
In preparation for riding the metro I streamlined my equipment down to the bare minimum; camera, junk tripod, china ball, soft box w/ stand, a handful of C-47s and masking tape.  I still looked like a sherpa when I got off the metro and shuffled up the hill to the hotel.  From now on if I have to shlep film crap I’m either getting an intern to do it or ordering a shit load of china balls from Burbank.
Once within the confines of the hotel room I began to set up the scene so I wouldn’t have to do it in the morning.  As I unpacked I realized I had forgotten to grab lightbulbs before I left the house and I was far too lazy at that point to run out to the CVS around the corner.  So I ‘borrowed’ the bulbs from the hotel lamps.  Within a a few minutes the scene was set after pinning up and taping down curtains.

The interviews went smooth with the exception of one hiccup involving security.  It was a complete misunderstanding and had nothing to do with the shoot but I think I still shit a brick when I saw the guy looming in the doorway.  He was an easy 350 pounds and not only did the man block out the sun, I was afraid I’d get sucked into his gravitational pull if I got too close.  When the man saw all the equipment set up I thought for sure we were going to get thrown out of there.
“Honest...this isn’t what it looks like...”
Luckily, that wasn’t the case and by the end of the day we had doubled the amount of footage for the Doc.  I packed up and grabbed a drink with DLS to celebrate pulling off 4  solid interviews in one day.
Since then I’ve imported all the footage we captured over that weekend, had the cover story on Philadelphia Weekly's website about a week back and as of tonight got our IMDb listing.  I’m currently in the middle of applying for my LLC, attending class at NYU and within the next two weeks will be cutting excerpts to be screened at the Left Forum.

In the meantime feel free to follow me on Twitter as I rant and rave about everything from Junct to food.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

2255 FILMS goes to Washington

I got confirmation I will be shooting in DC next Saturday.  Not sure the number of interviews that are lined up for that day, but it doesn’t much matter.  I’m just happy my new light came in today.  Had I known it would be so compact and easy to assemble I probably would have bought in bulk.  Something I will no doubt keep in mind before this years P21 event in August.
Believe it or not I’m actually packing even lighter than the trip out to LA.  After doing a little research on the parking situation in DC I’ve decided to take the metro in on Friday night.  Parking for one twenty four hour period at the hotel is actually more expensive than parking at one of the metro lots for the entire weekend.  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the metro is the way to go.  I hate to lug film gear on the subway but it’s not like I haven’t done it before.  Nothing says miserable more than lugging light kits and a bulky 16mm camera on the 6 during rush hour.  My gear/clothes will be confined to a messenger bag weighing no more than 30 pounds.
This is already feeling like routine to me.  I’m not nervous about the shoot and currently the only concern I have at the moment is to get over this funk I’ve had for a little over a week.  I really don’t want to be sick during the shoot and I certainly don’t want to infect anyone with this plague.
The New York gig is on for March and DLS asked if I had a bio written up.  Just the thought of one makes my head hurt.  To actually whip something up would probably give me an instant migraine.  I have no idea what to write when it comes to things like that. In the grand scheme of things I’m pretty boring.  I don’t go out all hours of the night to party.  Which to me seems to equate to being a really lame read.  The bio isn’t even written and I can already hear the crickets chirping in the background.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The weird go pro.

LA was pretty surreal this past weekend. I still can’t believe I was out there filming for the documentary.  It was actually odd as I sat in LAX with DLS waiting on the flight home.  Both of us were completely exhausted as we sputtered out at random intervals:
Holy shit, we’re doing this.
I realize technically it began several weeks back with the shoot in Philadelphia but this weekend was the no turning back point.  This was the defining moment that would give us the boost to carry on with the project.  We didn’t achieve our over all objective of five interviews and one panel discussion, but we got damn close in the time we were allotted.  Overall I deem this borderline impromptu road trip a great success.
When I first arrived at the airport and met up with DLS I was a bit dismayed by the fact that our one interviewee was adamant about filming at the hotel.  This was a bit off putting since I had actually dumped the extra gear to the wayside at 2am the previous night because I was under the impression everything was to be conducted at the law school on Saturday.  Had this happened to me five years ago I probably would have had a complete meltdown before checking in my bag.  I was good.  No screaming or cussing.  I knew this was something I couldn’t resolve until I got to the hotel so that I could take inventory of what I had access to.  
Once we got to the room I scoped things out.  It wasn’t the best scenario, but I could work with it.  We dumped the gear and ran off to the grocery store to stock up on caffeine.  I knew there was no other way I was going to survive the weekend without it.  I was also happy to learn that not only is DLS not a morning person but she’s violent before that first sip of highly caffeinated tea. That’s where we hit a snag.  We found tea bags at the grocery store but our hotel room didn’t have any way to heat up water.  That’s when my inner trailer trash kicked in and I started to search the grocery store for a sterno can, cake rack and four cans of soup.  While the idea was brilliant, at least in my opinion it was, it was simply not meant to be.  DLS had to settle for a rockstar to jumpstart her in the morning and I was left wondering why I hadn’t thought of looking up a camping store in advance of the trip.
Five minutes before the first interviewee arrived I was still in my flannel cocktail PJs in a blanket cocoon.  Thirty seconds prior to arrival I was caffeinated, dressed and setting up the shoot.  Interview went well and it actually went over the thirty minute allotment we had set aside.  As far as the documentary stand point this was great, scheduling for the rest of the day however took a hit as we found ourselves running to the diner up the street to eat breakfast in under fifteen minutes so that we could be at the law school on time.

We were late.  By about ten minutes.  The first panel was well on it’s way as we slipped into the back of the lecture hall.  It was an interesting observation for me considering I don’t have any sort of teaching background.  As DLS pointed various people out to me I couldn’t help but giggle a bit to myself.  There were several well known people in the literary world in attendance that afternoon, but it was completely lost to me.  What I found humorous was the grad students that flocked around these individuals.  You could see these twenty somethings with their mouths gaped and hanging on every last word of these professions.  They were essentially the rock stars of literature and they KNEW it.

I filmed the one panel we were slated for but then things got sort of grim.  We were informed that the law school would only have us until 5 that afternoon and the separate interviews might not happen due to time constraints.  Out of the four interviews we had slated we nailed down two when we combined the interview shortly after five PM.  I kep waiting for the security guard the throw us off campus, but he actually was very cool about us being there.  We didn’t leave the lecture hall until 6:30 that night.

The handful of people that were still left on campus invited us out afterwards.  The irony in the invite was that none of them were LA natives so none knew where to go.  Luckily an executive decision was made to return to our hotel lobby for cheap burgers and drinks.  We BSed with them (the literary rockstars) until about ten and turned in shortly thereafter.
Got up, got dressed and flew home.
It’s probably going to take me the rest of the week to recover.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

California dreaming no more...

Flight and Hotel are booked.  I will be heading out to LA on Friday afternoon, shooting on Saturday and returning home on Sunday.  Everything is packed with the exception of my clothes.

Clothes?  We don't need no stinking clothes!