Practice Shoot – 3/4/2020

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We may or may not have intentionally decorated the table for this scene

Now that all of my equipment has arrived, my location is set, and my web series idea has been established, it’s time I start learning my gear. I’m a big believer in learning by doing – how easy it is to jump on google and attack the search engine with every imaginable question before taking a single step forward.

This weekend I was able to bust out my recorder, microphone, and camera and capture some shots of a coworker along with sights and sounds of the job. Unfortunately this was all done on the clock, and seeing as how I’d prefer not to get fired – I’m not going to publish it here.

But yesterday I had a day off. It took one spontaneous moment  – “Hey you want to film something?” and my friend Matt was in. The small backyard has a lot going on in it – trees and plants outside, empty beers and ash trays on the table. So the setting was a lock, and we were well on our way.

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That’s my handy little Tascam recorder on the right.

At first I figured we should just improvise something and do our best to repeat the scene in additional takes. But then I realized how amateur that would be, especially after dedicating years to the craft of writing. I wanted a script primarily because it would keep us on track with each additional take. I’m very new behind the camera, but one thing I rely on is 3 different shots – distant, mid, and close. Those 3 separate views of the same scene come together nicely when it’s fully edited.

The other obstacle was comedy. It’s really difficult when you pull out a camera with your friends to keep from saying something stupid to ease the tension. Our minds, or at least mine, are wired to come up with something witty on improvisation. The key to drama is to add tension with each line, have characters transform, and push forward with the plot. This is difficult to develop spontaneously. Scenes are built on action, obstacles, and character growth. You will know if you are a writer that often times these plot developments take prolonged periods of mental anguish to hammer out.

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My shirt’s inside out to hide the fact that it’s a work T

I’m not saying that the script I wrote is any good – but it’s simple and has some of the key elements to be an actual scene. The one-and-a-half page story is about Ryan (me) entering the backyard to inform Trey (my friend Matt) that he is no longer willing to go through with a bank robbery. He complains that the “haul” isn’t worth a possible sentence of ten years. This is new information for Trey – he’s ready to back out himself. Except when he tells Ryan that the haul is actually for a quarter million, the scene turns on it’s head. Now Ryan pressures Trey to go through with the job.

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Matt going over lines

We’ve already filmed and recorded it so I won’t be making any changes, but I’ve posted the script here for you to read regardless. Feel free to offer me any constructive feedback if you’d like.

I’m hoping to edit most if not all of it today. I still need to learn how to color grade, as you will see in some of the disturbing colors of the footage. I anticipate I’ll be spending the weekend learning how to do that. I’d also like to set up a youtube channel, come up with a production company name and design a logo for it. That and write a 5 page script for my mini-series. If I’m on my game, I should be able to finish these tasks by the end of the week. I’ll keep you updated, but for now I’m aiming to have this short edited and uploaded for viewing before the weekend.

Location Ready – 3/3/2020

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I have location picked out for my upcoming web series, which is a fancy way of saying I moved into a new place. But part of that move WAS motivated by the fact that this slice of land is absolute gold for any person trying to show a chilling tale.

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You already know this barn is haunted by a little girl who needs you to free her

You can’t see it to well, but there is actually a swing set and even a slide that were probably built 70 years ago (creepy). The picture above is the barnyard of the property. Inside there are 12 stalls and no horses.

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Can you say “torture chamber”?

So here are the resources for my story – A barnyard, me, incredible hiking trails, and friends. When you’re low budget, the resources inspire the story.

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The house haunted by the little girl’s grandma who only wants to knit in peace

I like the idea of creating a web series of 5 minute episodes. I have an idea for a thriller plot that will keep viewers engaged and allow for using this location and utilizing the mountains. The protagonists locks up another character and interrogates him about the disappearance of his family. It will be unclear whether this captured character is innocent or guilty. It will be clear that the main character is under tremendous stress, and may have lost his mind looking for answers. But the key thing is, the barn is a central part of the story. Frequent, reoccurring use of it will appear logical and not heavy handed.

I want to write the script this week, then post it on here & reddit before production begins. It would be really great to hear feedback, and I think as a writer it’s always refreshing to read a script first before seeing how it all unfolds on the screen. My biggest priority is going to be building an audience of people who simply want to be entertained. That’s more important to me than entering any film festivals or following screenwriting 101 rules at the moment. But for now, I’m grateful for any person who takes the time to read these update and provide any insights they may have. So thank you.

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A rat whose life was wasted gazing through iron bars at a cheese slice he never got to eat now haunts other rats who are happy and well fed.