Just Leasing (And C.P.) – 1/11

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I miss that cheeseburger. That’s my brother behind me.

Today will be the first day for filming Just Leasing. This is a secondary project that I do not consider nearly as important as Cheaters Prosper. In other words, I would like to knock out the 22 pages in a relatively short time frame.

The biggest issue we’re going to face today will have to do with filming it. Two camera persons are dedicating a ton of time to Cheaters Prosper without pay, and I do not feel right about exploiting their generosity for another project.

Subsequently, I’m left with 4 actors and no camera person. I’m currently leaning toward filming the footage on my camera phone. My friend has a tripod that I believe I can strap my phone to and get wide coverage with.

For the close shots, I honestly think I may buy a selfie-stick. I saw one at the local liquor store the other day, opened my lips to begin a joke about the kind of morons who waste money on that type of thing. I shut my lips when I realized it might be essential to filming Just Leasing.

This is going to be a rough week for Cheaters Prosper. My friend, whose home we need for a location, hasn’t been getting back to me. The people who I’ve contacted on Craigslist in order to possibly purchase their poker tables haven’t responded to me, either. On top of all that, I feel I have a responsibility to myself to attend drill night this Thursday night. I missed it last week, and am certain that devoting an hour and a half of my time to the local fire station is imperative for my future as a firefighter.

I will be posting some behind the scenes footage from Just Leasing tomorrow. Until then, enjoy some goofing around from last week’s shoot for Cheaters Prosper.

  • Thomas M. Watt

 

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Sunday Updates – 1/10

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If you’re curious about Cheaters Prosper: I have to contact the actors and actresses to find out who is available weeknights this week. I need to purchase a legit poker table, because the majority of the remaining scenes require one.

If you’re curious about Just Leasing: My friend from Berkeley is available this Monday and Tuesday. So is Catrina. I have to call Jordan tomorrow and find out if she is up for filming on these days. I haven’t contacted a cameraman/woman, and am currently leaning toward filming this sitcom-style episode on my smartphone. This project is not nearly as important to me as Cheaters Prosper, and therefore I do not intend the finished product to be as cinematic-ally catching. My goal is for it to be funny, and I don’t think people have the same expectations for an episode of comedy as they do for a dramatic pilot.

 

Cheaters Prosper – 1/8

20160106_122300Just wrapped up the third day in a row of heavy duty filming. I’m exhausted, but happy. I’ll get to today’s filming in Saturday’s post. Today I’ll discuss yesterday’s shoot.

El Nino struck Southern California for 2 straight days. The first day didn’t affect us much. Wednesday was much more trying.

Not only were we freezing our asses off, but the downpour came sporadically. The scenes we shot were all outside, and on several occasions we had to cut the scene early to protect the equipment. The rain fell so hard we actually added a line to the script – “It’s raining, let’s go play inside.”

Thankfully, conditions improved so that line can be omitted.

The biggest difference in writing for film versus writing for books is that you have to consider your budget in each and every scene. I can’t afford to have any car accidents, expensive props, or high-octane action sequences. I wrote this script knowing full well the dramatic twists would have to come from relationships. Good stories move us emotionally, so this isn’t as limiting as one might think.

Dan filmed for the second day in a row, and got more footage and takes than I could have possibly requested. One reason I think this Independent film will be great is the devotion of all the individuals involved.

It’s incredible to see so many individuals come together and put forth so much effort into making this project the best it can be. I’m not paying anyone, and therefore they’re not obligated to put in the amount of time they are dedicating to this.

Dan filmed until we ran out of daylight and shot every scene I hoped to complete. I’m really happy he did, because everything we filmed takes place during the same day in the script. I was terrified of having to re-shoot, because shooting exterior scenes with rainfall in Southern California is a surefire way to get some major continuity errors.

I tried to upload a video of the footage to youtube. For some bizarre reason, the audio plays fine while the video only shows up when it is paused(on my computer at least). Going to take a crack at fixing it tomorrow, but thought I’d attach the link to this post anyway, in case it is fixed automatically.

The video below features behind the scenes difficulties and a rough, rough edit of one of the scenes we filmed. There is no color grading, audio syncing, or any kind of real editing. All I did was trim shot and put together bits and pieces from the four different angles we had. Unfortunately, one of the takes was recorded with an ambulance passing in the background, so that one’s worthless.

I’m looking forward to telling you all about Thursday’s shoot, with my brother back at the camera, tomorrow.

  • Thomas M. Watt

 

Cheaters Prosper Update – 1/7

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Rigging the dashboard cam

Wow. The last two days have been extremely… well, prosperous.

Knocked out 11 pages of the screenplay during that time. Filming more tomorrow. I’d like to give you the day-by-day report, so this post will be all about January 5th.

The reason I failed to post yesterday was because I had trouble running my computer after loading all the footage and editing with software that is geared toward home movies.

In fact, I woke up sporadically throughout the night hoping to get my computer up and running to no avail. I had already put together the behind-the-scenes video that I’ve included at the bottom of this post.

The entire day was hectic. As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post, the decision to film exterior scenes at a local community college came last minute. We’d originally planned to film at a friend’s home on Wednesday, but he made a compulsive decision to go on vacation, forcing the cancellation of our shoot.

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Setting up a fake list of grades

I spent Tuesday night memorizing my lines, and thankfully was able to practice more once Scott, who plays “Jax”, arrived at my house. We had a small list of prop items I needed to gather before we left:

  • 2 button down shirts that needed to be ironed
  • A list of fake names and grades
  • Poker chips and cards
  • A tripod
  • Umbrellas
  • Towels

Much to my apprehension, “El Nino” was supposed to hit southern California, where we live, during both days of shooting the exterior shots.

It rained all morning and was still pouring by the time we arrived at the college. Once we arrived, we were near certain we’d have to cancel the outdoor shoot for the day. It was to our amazement that we discovered several outdoor areas that were protected by overhead cement pillars (?).

My friend Aaron, who was recently featured in my Amazing Race post, came along to help with the boom mic. He also found a way to arrange the 4 umbrellas we had with us on the nearby puddles to drown out the constant dripping in the background. The towels we brought along were vital, as we needed to wipe down the table and nearby puddles (though my deck of playing cards was completely destroyed by the end of the shoot).

I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am to have brought Dan, my acting friend, along on this project. He got so many takes from so many angles I have no doubt we will be able to make our scenes appear flawless, despite the many times we screwed up our lines.

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Dan the man

All in all, Tuesday was a great success. I can’t wait to tell you all about Wednesday’s shoot tomorrow – the rain was ten times worse.

  • Thomas M. Watt

Cheaters Prosper – 1/5

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Persistence pays.

Yesterday, I discussed my bitter disappointment with learning of my friend’s last minute vacation. We filmed a previous scene in his house, and it seemed as though this week would be wasted.

But my trip to the bars this weekend turned out to be the most productive thing I did last week.  I went out with My friend Dan, whom I met through my acting class. He divulged to me his true passion is photography and film. He told me he’d be glad to film some scenes for me if the opportunity ever presented itself.

My older brother is in charge of filming Cheaters Prosper, and is using his own expensive equipment. For this reason I’ve been apprehensive about bringing in a new cinematographer.

Then the realization occurred to me that the scenes my brother shot have all been interior shots.

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That’s me – I play “Torque”

Therefore, it wouldn’t be too disruptive to viewers if exterior shots are filmed on a different camera in a slightly different style.

So I scribbled out a new itinerary.

There are about 3 scenes that take place at a local community college during winter break. Dan confirmed that he’d be to film them tomorrow during the daytime.

I’ve just gone from having nothing to film, to potentially knocking out 10 pages tomorrow. I’m a principle character in these dialogue-heavy scenes, so I’m going to work on memorizing my lines as soon as I finish typing this.

I’ve also been fortunate enough to reschedule Thursday’s scenes for Wednesday. This was going to be problematic for me because I feel that it’s important to attend “drill time” at the local fire station every few weeks. I’m happy that the actors involved had no problems changing the filming date to Wednesday.

On top of all this, my brother showed me some of the footage from our last day of shooting. The audio isn’t synched, but the video footage is stunning – I’m talking studio level.

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Dylan, who plays “Elroy” (the bad guy)

It’s nice to be excited again. I should have some pictures or video to show you tomorrow.

  • Thomas M. Watt

Lisa Emme – Tooth and Claw!

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Thomas M. Watt: Today we’re featuring one of my favorite indie authors, Lisa Emme. She’s the author of the Harry Russo Diaries series, and the first installment (Dead and Kicking) continues to receive 5 star reviews. What motivated you to write this series?

Lisa Emme: It sounds totally cliché, but the characters motivated me. I had this idea for Harry, the entire opening scene of Dead and Kicking in fact, playing out in my head for some time. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. What happened next? Who was Harry? I’m a huge urban fantasy and paranormal romance fan, so it was natural for me to think that this was a story I wanted to learn more about, a story I’d want to read, so I started writing it. I had to write it so I could find out what happened!

Dead and Kicking features zombies, vampires and communication with the dead. Does the sequel introduce any new horrifying characters or paranormal activities that you’d be kind enough to warn us about?

LE: As a matter-of-fact, yes. Book two, Tooth and Claw, introduces you more to the Fae side of the supernatural world. There’s a psychotic ‘elf’ (he hates being called that), blood-thirsty pixies and even homicidal redcaps. For those not familiar with redcaps, they are called that because they soak their hats in the blood of their victims so that it drips continually down their faces in gory streaks. Of course, werewolves, vampires and zombies are still in the mix as well. Harry’s world is bursting with supernatural beings. There’s never a dull moment.

If Harry Russo met Cole Sear from The Sixth Sense, how do you think their conversation would go?

LE: Ha! That’s a good question. Hmmm, maybe something like….

Cole: I see dead people.
Harry: Yeah, kid. I know. Me too.
Cole: They’re just walking around like regular people…They don’t know they’re dead.
Harry: Yeah, I get that, but listen kid, you probably shouldn’t go around telling everyone that you see dead people. They’re going to think you’re not right in the head. You know what I mean? They’ll think you’re a…
Cole: That I’m a freak.
Harry: Yeah, something like that. So keep it on the down-low, all right? And if a ghost is bugging you, just tell them to take a hike. You’re not their grief counsellor.
Cole: You ever feel the prickly things on the back of your neck? And the tiny hairs on your arms, you know when they stand up?

Harry: Okay, now you’re kind of just creeping me out, kid. Enough already.
Cole: I don’t wanna be scared anymore.
Harry: Look…if all else fails, use this. [Harry hands Cole a Taser] Nothing gets rid of ghosts faster than a 1200 volt jolt.
Cole: [Looks at the Taser with glee] Thanks, Harry.
Harry: Don’t mention it, kid. I mean, really…don’t tell your mom I gave you that. And if Tommy Tammisimo ends up flopping on the ground like a fish, I’ll deny ever having met you.

Before Harry Russo embarks on her second journey, she stops by your house and asks for some advice. What do you tell her?

LE: I would probably tell her to get her head out of the sand and quit denying her abilities. I’d also tell her to quit pretending she doesn’t just want to throw herself at Nash and to go for it. But that’s just me, and maybe I’ve been single too long…

You’ve mentioned that you were an avid reader before deciding to craft your own tales. Do you view stories any differently now that you’re designing them?

LE: That’s a tough one. I guess I do. I think it’s hard to take off that writer hat once you have it on. I find myself analysing an author’s style. How they write their dialog, how they handle scene transitions, the POV they write in, etc. Everything I read is a learning opportunity, a chance to think about what really worked and didn’t for the story. I actually think that the way I see stories changed before I started writing. In fact, it’s probably why I decided to start writing. I can remember reading a book and it turned out that it wasn’t particularly well written (it was just plain awful), yet it was hugely popular, I mean insanely popular and I thought to myself that I could write a much better story.

Thank you so much for dropping by, Lisa!

Thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity for your readers to get to know me. I hope if they want to know more they’ll stop by my website (www.lisaemme.com). I’d love to hear from them.

Author Bio:

Lisa Emme is a Canadian who proudly ends her ABC’s with ‘zed’. A self-professed book-a-holic, she has spent the last few years trying to stem her book hoarding tendencies by writing her own stories and by avoiding the bargain table at the bookstore like the plague.

A bit of a thrill seeker, Lisa has tried such death defying activities as bungy jumping off a bridge and rappelling down the side of a 17 storey building. She’s also single-handedly raising a teenager.

Lisa has worked as a veterinary assistant, playground instructor, bank teller, store clerk, waitress, telephone solicitor, research writer for an environmental think tank, computer programmer, and systems analyst. Her passion, however, is writing. What else is she going to do during the long, cold, prairie winter?

Lisa would love to hear from you. You can find her here:

Website: www.lisaemme.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LisaEmmeBooks/
Twitter: @LisaEmmeBooks
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/LisaEmmeBooks/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/lisa.emme.books

ORDER TOOTH AND CLAW TODAY!!

  • Thomas M. Watt

Cheaters Prosper Update – 12/31

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From left to right: Jordan, Dylan, and Catrina

Today I spoke with Catrina, the lead actress in Cheaters Prosper. I mentioned previously how disappointed I was to discover she and her friend had dropped out from the sitcom they encouraged me to write for them. Today I learned that her grandmother had died in the past week. Goes to show why you should never rush to judgment.

Furthermore, Catrina decided that she is now willing to participate in Just Leasing, though her friend is not. Even more impressive, she read the latest draft of Cheaters Prosper and gave me some really great feedback.

I’m truly astonished at how blind I am to the female perspective.  Catrina provides character insights that are abundantly obvious to her, yet evade my understanding completely. I’m beyond grateful to receive her input, and terribly regret ever doubting her dedication.

The ball returned to rolling today. My brother received a new camera that is capable of shooting longer scenes in RAW. I have a severely limited understanding of cinematography, but from my limited comprehension it seems he prefers to shoot by recording thousands of still frame photographs that flow together fluidly enough to provide beautiful motion pictures. His former camera could only handle shooting in this format for thirty seconds or less, and constantly skipped frames. The camera upgrade should prove highly beneficial.

Furthermore, the first delivery of aluminum pieces came in for him today. The pieces are going to be welded(I think) together to build a circular dolly. The climatic scene takes place at a poker table in my garage. When the dolly is completed, my brother will be able to film one continuous, orbiting shot of us conversing at the table. I share his excitement with this vision, and am sure it will be an incredible scene if he can pull it off.

I contacted each of the involved actors, and was happy to learn they are all looking forward to shooting 1-3 days next week. There are a few scheduling conflicts, but I’m confident I will be able to organize the scenes appropriately over the weekend.

Will keep you updated.