The Good Soldier – Notes 2 – Buying stuff is fun…

I’m just so excited I can hardly contain myself. Things are moving along. I’ve really got on the ball and started to purchase props, equipment, and costumes for the film – the essential stuff to make it happen. My budget, albeit small for any film, even a 15 minute film, is going almost exclusively to this “stuff” that turns an idea into a movie. So far I have been to a couple of military surplus stores in the OKC metro area. One of them in particular, Sam’s Surplus on Agnew, had a backpack that I bought for $20. It has a good look though I’m certain it’s not from the late 30s early 40s time period. Plus, I made a new friend at Sam’s. The owner, Gene, has owned the place for 65 years. Yes, I said SIXTY-FIVE years. Talk about sticking it out. He was quite an interesting guy, very talkative, lots of stories, and very interested in the climbing gym and trading some business. Anyway, I found some items there that I haven’t purchased yet that I think are going to be great for costumes. So I’m sure I’ll be back.

I received my Lowel Core 44 light kit today. I went immediately into setup mode. Reading the instructions, feeling like a complete doofus trying to figure out how to put everything together. Ultimately it wasn’t that difficult and now that I’ve done it once I’m sure I can do it again pretty quickly. I’m looking forward to setting up the 3-light kit on a set and taking some test runs.

Another big decision I made was to purchase a new (new to me) Canon 814 XL-S Super 8 camera. It was a big purchase but the more I thought about it the more I do not like the quality of the pictures I’m getting from my Nizo. I don’t know what it is but the clarity and color has not been that good. And I really dislike the viewfinder – I can’t see shit through it. So it came down to: do I want to burn $1000 of film through a camera that’s not working for me? Hell no. I need something that works. So I hope the Canon is everything that everyone says it is. We’ll see.

I’ve been living on ebay for the past couple of days. I’ve found and purchased most of the props I need. Found some really good stuff – stuff I don’t think I would have ever found around here. I now have purchased 2 radios – both are 30s era shortwave radios that presumably WORK. That’s going to be awesome. I bought a pair of vintage headphones from the 30s, and a WWII era footlocker. I’m picking up the footlocker in Fort Worth next week, since I’m going to be down that way for a climbing team competition.

I’ve also purchased a couple of costumes for the pin-up girl character, Miss June. I already have my actress that’s going to play Miss June and I’m expecting that we will do the still photo-shoot for her next week.

I pulled out my old light meter – a Sekonic Studio A – that I inherited from my Dad. The meter wand moves but I don’t know if the readings are accurate or not. I need someone’s expertise. Frankly, I don’t know a damn thing about light meters or metering for film. Ironic isn’t it, since I love shooting film? I just need to learn more about metering, taking readings, and understanding the ISO/ASA thing.

Next steps are to go through the script scene by scene, location by location and begin blocking out the scenes. Then I need to have a production meeting, set a schedule, and do a casting call. Once I make the casting announcement I want pretty much everything to be ready to roll so that we can go right into rehersals. I’m aiming for beginning principle photography June 1, if not earlier.

BTW – anyone want to be a producer? The film needs money. Did I mention that I’m sending this to Sundance?

The Good Soldier – Pre-Production – Notes 1

The Good Soldier is a 15-16 minute short film that I’ve been working on with the goal of shooting and submitting to the Sundance Film Festival of 2010. The initial story idea and script development began in December 2008. Since that time I have a complete script, some of the locations, some of the cast, a basic budget, some of the production equipment, and an ever-evolving vision in my mind.

The Good Soldier is the story of a young man ordered to hold an observation post in a remote location. After nearly a year with zero activity he becomes dismayed at the purpose of his mission, for little has been revealed to him. As a result, he’s driven by an ever-present urge to uncover the true reason for his mission. Not everything is as it seems. What does the future hold for this good soldier?

Things have been coming together a bit more lately. I made a big investment in purchasing a light kit. I decided to go with a Lowel Core 44 because it has everything I need for this shoot and I’m sure I’ll be able to use it for future projects. Of course I debated between renting and buying but it came down to an issue of time – how much time I thought I would need a light kit – and convenience. It’s so much easier to have a light kit right when you need it.

I’ve been reading a lot about film stocks, trying to pick the perfect film for the locations, lighting, and scenes in the story. I’m almost positive that I will shoot on B&W Tri-X for interiors and PLUS-X for exteriors. Reasons for this are that the story would benefit from having it in black an white. Plus, I feel that b/w film holds a high place in motion picture photography in terms of style and professionalism. And it will be fun to shoot.

I’m still pretty confused about camera settings and light metering – I wish I was more knowledgeable in this area. I’m trying to make better sense of it so that when it comes time I know, based on the amount of light in the room, what settings I should have the camera on. If anyone has any advice in this department that would be great. I’m sure much of it is just getting out there and burning through some carts of film but I’d like to know a little better what I’m doing before I pull the trigger. More research to be done!

I’ve made a few contacts along the way and some of those relationships are in the early stages right now so I can’t really say what will become of them until later. Hopefully, I will have some help in the casting, scheduling, lighting, and sound departments. And I still need a main character. I will be putting together a bio for the main character shortly and hold a casting call.

After the initial test-shoot (which I wrote about in a previous entry) I learned quite a bit about what will work and what will not. I was also reminded of the unforgiving nature of shooting film. It can be difficult to get it just right. And with film it’s not like you can go back and delete it – once it’s on there, it’s on there. And you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s been processed.

The plan is to shoot the rehearsals on HDV, get the performances down pat, and then shoot it on S8.

Got to go for now….more later…