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Today was a good day.

day 4 of production

I’ve made a lot of progress on the Admiral byrd animation, which is where most of my time has gone. I’ve also developed an exciting new idea for an ongoing youtube program which I hope to share with you soon. I’ve been relentless with my time and unfortunately have found myself unable to post here as much as I’d like. Above is a video summarizing the challenges and highlights of production.

Filming Day 5 – Part 2

So I arrived late and we began preparing for the “Edward Youtube Video.” The idea for this scene was that my character would be browsing his wife’s facebook and come across a man he recognizes – Edward. In episode 4 of Mountain Cult, my character meets Edward during a quest. Edward offers my character a drink that was roofied, resulting in my character to failing to reach his destination.

So I had to make a youtube video and a facebook page for Sebastian Sage (Edward). Sebastian brought along 3 different button down shirts and we intended to take some creative pictures with each of them. In the end, we didn’t have enough time for a single picture.

The youtube video was fun because we didn’t have to work off a script, but there was still a few rehearsals to be done. The most important thing was for Sebastian to remember each ingredient and mix them in a creative way. In one instance, he spills salt all over the counter top then brushes it into the mixing bowl with his barehand.

At noon Piper Supplee (Shiloh) arrived. She had 2 lines offscreen and one onscreen. She enters the kitchen after I leave and asks Edward who the visitor was. He avoids the question with a witty response and the scene ends. Much thanks to Piper, she helped me realize that their interaction at the end was lacking any true punch. She came up with the idea of recommending Edward expand on the flavors he offers beyond simply vanilla. One of my favorite characteristics of “Edward’s Tasty Cream” is that Edward is obsessively fixated on vanilla being “the only real flavor”. Piper adding this button to the scene allowed him to end on a comically infuriated note.

We filmed with Piper until 3 pm, which took much longer than it should have. She did a great job but during her time there I was not being frugal with the sunlight we had. As an example, I recorded her voice over lines from the kitchen, outside the bathroom door, and inside the bathroom door.

During the previous days of shooting, all of which I intend to recap here, I began knowing sunlight and time would be a major issue. During day 1 I used my folk’s house – and only had 3-5 hours to get it done. Day 2 was at the antique shop, where the business owners were waiting to close up for the night. Day 3 was with Katie, where we raced against the sun in exterior shots to avoid the camera overheating. Day 4 was with Patrick – filmed guerilla style in a seldom used parking lot behind businesses. For day 5, we were using Pat’s kitchen – Pat is a member of my filmmaking group and a strong supporter to all filmmakers. She was willing to give me as much time as was needed.

So now it’s about 3 o’clock and we are FINALLY getting to page 1 out of the 4 we still have to shoot. Fortunately I had to set up the set before we filmed Piper’s sequence. This involved: A table mat, the ice cream cartons, the sign for his business, the mixing ingredients, the lights, and the potted plant. It never ceases to amaze me how lengthy the list of props becomes prior to shooting. Nothing is more aggravating than making a 30 minute trip to a store the night before because you don’t own the measuring cup that you need after the 6th line on the 3rd page.

It’s so funny how the minor considerations never end. As we prepared for take 1, I recognized a potential issue – the blinds. Pat’s blinds were rather transparent. That means as dawn sets in it will become obvious that the time of day has changed when the scene is meant to portray only a five minute interaction. I decided the blinds would be visible in the first shot, but the set up later on would exclude them. This produced another minor consideration that I swear stumps me every time I film.

There is a 180 degree rule in filmmaking that is simple enough for a child to understand. Whenever you flim something, create an imaginary line between two points in the room. Pick one side of that line and film every take only from that side. You can’t go wrong.

What tends to happen is you find your best angles and framing in a room and wind up with a list of 3 – one of which breaks the 180 degree rule. What I like to do is organize my shot list so that the 180 degree rule will be broken during specific moments of the scene. In the kitchen scene, I stand up my chair and address Edward Directly. At this point the imaginary 180 degree line falls directly behind us. Prior to that, when I am seated and addressing Edward who stands near the counter, the imaginary line is drawn from my left shoulder to his right. It is only when I stand up to intimidate him that the line is reset.

Once the takes get rolling (my favorite part of filmmaking) we come across a few obstacles. 4 pages of dialogue can be lot to remember. One missed line, or out of place line, can corrupt the entire take. Because the script calls for Shiloh to interupt us from off screen, we had a difficult time remembering when and where she interrupts us. Remember now, Piper left hours ago.

Thankfully, Pat was more than willing to assist us. She remained seated off camera and would provide the verbal cue to let us know Shiloh had a line. Another minor consideration – the script. Modern day microphones are amazing and pick up sounds and noises that you may not even hear during filming. Because Pat did not know the lines, she would need to hold the script in her hands and discreetly turn the pages to know when to speak. I forget my solution to this, but I’m pretty sure she tore the pages apart and taped them to her wall. I can’t emphasize enough that I couldn’t do this without Pat.

<— That’s Pat

Finally, we were getting all the shots that were needed just as the sun was setting. And it was setting fast. But there was another reason I meant to arrive much earlier than the actors that morning – I needed a shot of me breaking and entering into the residence.

With the sun disappearing so rapidly I didn’t even have enough time to think about it. I knew that it was too dark for the shots to be believable but I still wanted to get them. You see, Pat lives an hour away from me – and I vehemently detest reshoots.

So I ran outside, opened the aperture to 1.4, and took one take of each of the following – myself walking through the backyard, opening the gate, and parking on the street. Each take required me to set up the tripod and find an angle that worked. Lastly, I got a clip of me grabbing the hammer from the passenger seat. It was pretty funny to edit this material because I had my lav mic running and later on I got to hear myself cursing angrily. It felt like getting gas when you’re already 10 minutes late to work and traffic is gridlock.

In the end, it all worked out. Because this scene occurs early on in the episode, I realized in the editing room I was able to make it appear that I arrived at Edward’s place so early the sun had not come up yet. It is only at the end of the scene that we see daylight burning through the blinds.

The lav mics that we used worked great – they blocked a lot of the echo in the tiled floor environment. I’m grateful I placed my light were I did because it was difficult to tell the time of day during my shots of Sebastian. Piper did an outstanding job and her appearance got a good laugh out of one of my coworkers. The point of her role was comic relief, and it worked.

Today I’ll be working on a trailer which I hope to publish here shortly. If you’d like to view the final edit of Edward’s youtube video, you can do so by watching the video below.

Filming Day 5 – Part 1

Day 5 of shooting Mountain Cult presented its own unique challenges. This is the one day that I felt would be the easiest to shoot – and I was wrong big time.

Pat, who I met through my Meetup group and cast as the voice on the phone, agreed to allow me to use her kitchen for the shoot. Sebastian Sage returned to play his beloved character of Edward.

Before the shooting even began, I needed to put together the props. In this Scene, the character of Edward demonstrates his new found passion for baking Ice Cream. He is so passionate about ice cream, in fact, that he actually launched a Facebook business and began selling it from his kitchen.

When we met Edward in Episode 4, he tricked my character into drinking a roofied beverage. Edward is part of Mountain Cult and admitted that he was blackmailed into joining. I thought it would be funny to have my character confronting a cult member in their home only to discover him selling home-made ice cream.

But how do you even make ice cream? I didn’t know. That’s why I had to make it myself several weeks prior to filming; in order to add a sense of authenticity. I discovered that I could purchase a simple mixer for $20. The main ingredients to vanilla ice cream are sugar, evaporated milk, cream, vanilla, and a pinch of salt.

But how would I make Edwards Ice Cream mixing appear more as a business than a hobby? Decoration. I ordered a chefs robe and hat. I used my experience applying graphics to T-shirts to attach logos to the uniform. I found a still from Episode 4 of Edward that I felt would work and photoshopped it for his graphic. Even the font for a his business had to have a personalized feel to it – so I created a new font at

The chef’s hat did not arrive on time so I stopped by a Halloween shop and found one there. Unfortunately the hat was not adjustable and after applying the graphic I realized it might not fit Sebastian’s head. I ordered a second, adjustable Chef’s hat and made the entire thing again.

The script calls for a character who is heard off screen during my scene with Edward. She appears briefly at the end of the scene. Because I would have to cast another actor for the shoot, I decided to axe this character. After speaking with Sebastian, however, he convinced me that including the character would add the extra layer of comedy to the scene that was needed. I ultimately did cast the character, but only sent out for demos and auditions 2 weeks prior to our shooting date.

I used the logo I designed for “Edward’s Tasty Cream” and applied it to ice cream containers and an ornamental fence thing. I purchased all the ingredients for ice cream and brought my mixing bowls and mixers out for the shoot. I stopped by Pat’s the week before filming and took pictures all throughout the kitchen so I could get a grasp on which angles would play best for the scene. I realized early on that the kitchen features a hollow echo – so utilizing lavalier mics the entire day would be wise.

This shoot was the first time I slept the night before. I intended to shoot 4 pages plus some bonus youtube content and knew it was going to be a long day. Piper, who played the role of the offscreen character “Shiloh”, would be arriving at noon.

I intended to arrive at Pat’s at 7 am, 1 hour before Sebastian. This would allow me time to set up and rehearse my lines.

I woke up feeling a little to comfortable. I think it was a result of being sleep deprived and overworked for 7 straight days. Whatever the case I just moved slowly that morning. I wound up not leaving my place until 7, despite its 45 minute drive. I would rehearse my lines on the way to Pat’s.

Then, 30 minutes in, I realized I had forgotten one very important prop – the plant! During the scene at the antique shop, my character arrives with a potted plant that he claims is a gift from Edward. This does not make sense if my character does not leave Edward’s place with that plant in hand.

I stopped by a lowes to pick up a clone of it. But they didn’t have it (!). I would have to stop at another Lowes, and I did. They had it there. Not I was going to arrive at 8:30. Sebastian informed me he was running late as well.

For some reason that I will never be at peace with, google maps directed me to take side roads the remainder of the journey. I honestly don’t know what the hell happened, but I wound up way behind my initial forecasted time of arrival. To make things worse, I needed ice, gatorades and water to supply the actors with. How in the hell there was not a single gas station in my vicinity for the next 20 minutes I will never understand. I stopped by a ultra small liquor store and picked up 4 gatorades, 4 waters, and a pack of ice.

Finally, at 9:30, I arrived. We still had two hours until Piper arrived. If I moved fast, we could get some quality takes. But there was a dilemna – remember that bonus youtube content I mentioned? The script called for my character to find a online video of Edward mixing ice cream. I only had enough ingredients to make one batch of ice cream.

I didn’t have a choice – I had to start the day by filming Edward in a different shirt mixing the ice cream ingredients. We only would have one take to get this right. I instructed him the proper way to make the ice cream, set up a single microphone, and filmed the scene on my cell phone. This felt like it would add a layer of authenticity to a person making youtube videos for their home ice cream business.

By the time we finished these takes, it was already noon. Piper arrived and we had to set up for her shoot without doing a single take for Edward yet. I think we began filming her at 1 pm all the way until 3. I probably took more takes then necessary, but I always seem to do that during the beginning of filming. Time feels infinite when it is early. It’s not until the sun starts going down that I start racing.

Time to go to work but I’ll try and post part 2 tomorrow.

The Big Shoot – 7-21-21

The date that I have been working toward all year has finally arrived and past. On Monday, July 19th, I finally got to film a scene that involved 4 other actors at a public location. The amount of preparation required to complete this scene is difficult even for me to comprehend:

  1. Location – I had to go door to door at small businesses and offer to shoot a promo video
  2. I had to shoot, edit, and submit the promo video
  3. I had rewrite the same scene approximately 30 times until it was ready to film
  4. Cast the actors
  5. design the props
  6. order costumes
  7. purchase table mats, candles, a small potted plant, a woven basket, rope, etc.
  8. Purchase an additional camera and microphone
  9. Find crew members available day of event
  10. Consistently respond & update actors and crew members involved in the shoot

The list goes way deeper than this, and I imagine I will talk about the preparation involved in the next film journal. The day of the shoot was Tuesday. I worked Saturday night, came home, and slept for 3 hours. From noon Sunday until the shoot completed at 8 pm Monday I did not sleep. Then I came home and parked in a tow-away zone and stayed awake until 5 am when a parking spot opened up in my apartment complex.

Now it is Wednesday. I have all my footage and audio stored on my computer. The proxies have been created and the media has been backed up on an external hard drive.

I am very excited to move forward. I am extremely pleased with how everything turned out, but will not have a complete response until I have begun editing. I will try and get some stills posted here soon. The rest of the film includes scenes that only require 1 additional actor and can be shot anywhere.

I should add that having a crew assist me on Monday helped things run smooth and more efficient than ever before. It was truly rewarding and a breath of relief to have competent individuals behind the cameras who you trust to frame a shot appropriately. It was also encouraging to work with people who enjoy every aspect of the filmmaking process as much as myself. In our every day lives, it is common to work with people who will never understand the passion and desire to produce art. To find myself surrounded by other artists was enough of a reward in itself to make all the work, expenses, and time that went into this day worth it all on its own.

Film Journal 5 – Casting

My journey toward production continues as I’ve recently begun casting the film. I’ve found an outstanding actress to play my character’s wife and am truly excited to have her on board. We begin filming next week.

I’m casting 5 other actors for another scene that will be filmed in July. That process is well underway and I’ll be viewing their auditions tonight. I have also ordered more film equipment and believe I have everything ready for the big shoot in the future. There are some more props that require purchasing and I don’t yet have the crew members set in stone. Regardless I am very tired and working hard at being prepared well in advance.

I have set up a Kickstarter pre-launch page here. From what I understand I am unable to accept any donations or contributions yet, but I’m excited to further develop incentives for individuals looking to support my bad habit.

Check out Film Journal – Episode 5 below if you’d like. Any time you comment or like a video it helps me immensely.