There is a document on my computer, The first page of it reads: Everybody Loves Murder.- 2nd draft.- December 4th 2002
This is the shooting script for what was/is to be my first attempt at making a feature length movie. As we say goodbye to December 2009 it’s still not done. Holy shit, I’m going to shoot myself.
I’m going to try and chronicle the making of the movie as accurately and best as I can from my less than stellar memory. Hopefully it will be somewhat entertaining, and maybe even informative to those looking to make a movie with little to no money or resources, it should at least give you an idea of what not to do.
Part 3A: Post Production
I know what you’re thinking, “You said it was a 3 part series, what’s this 3A bullshit?” Well the movie isn’t finished so I’m leaving myself some room in case something amazing happens between now and then, That’s right, my Return of the Jedi is ending on a cliff-hanger. Deal with it.
It seemed natural to leave editing the movie until I had finished shooting, complete A move on to B. This was a big mistake for a lot of reasons; firstly the more you understand editing the more you understand directing, it makes you more organised and more efficient, because it lets you conceptualise a scene much more fully, so you don’t waste as much time getting shots you don’t need, and you’re a lot less likely to overlook a shot you’ll wish you had later. Secondly it gives you something to show the cast and crew to prove to them that they’re working on something real and eminent, rather than working endless hours and days with nothing to show for it, and if you’re doing a decent job, it helps them trust that you know what you’re doing.
It also helps maintain a continuity in tone. When your shoot is spread out over years, it can be really easy to start looking at the scene you’re working on in a vacuum, not taking into account how the scene is going to fit in with all the others to form a whole.
For me, when I really started viewing the movie as a movie was during the editing process. As soon as you can see three or four scenes run together in sequence, that’s when it all starts really feeling real. You start feeling the flow and the rhythm of the thing, it starts taking on a life of it’s own.
Even though the setting of my movie isn’t far removed from reality in a large fantastical sense, it still feels like a world that I’ve built from the ground up. Characters and event are happening in front of me, on a screen, and they’re happening the way they are because they’re coming from my imagination. It’s a world skewed by my point of view (that’s not quite right, point of view implies that this is how I see the world, or how I think the world should be, and neither of those are accurate. It’s more a world filtered through a lens of my own neuroses, quirks and foibles, I guess) Anyway it’s an awesome feeling.
Another fun aspect of editing is finding little moments you didn’t know were there, or creating little moments that weren’t supposed to be. My guiding rule to editing (and remember I was learning everything on the job with this movie, so much wiser editors than me can feel free to contradict this) was to follow the performance, Which ever angle had the best reading of a line, or best reaction from an actor, I’d try and find a way to use without any jarring transitions. To me the characters were what were going to make or break the movie, so I wanted to give them the best chance they had. Sometimes it meant sacrificing a better looking shot, but so be it.
A little thing I did with a character who was meant to be a drug fried gas station attendant, was to leave the extra seconds from between action being called and when he started talking to have these unnaturally long pauses in his speech. I did it just goofing around to entertain myself, because it was just really funny when going over the raw footage, and it ended up working.
One thing I’m going to impress upon you that you probably don’t need me to, because you’re probably not as dumb as me, is get your footage onto your computer as soon as possible, and label and organise your tapes (if you’re using tapes).
One mishap that bugs me to no end, in fact I’m annoyed just writing about it, is that I shot some footage, remember in part 2 how I said part of why I hired one actress was because she was pregnant? Well in the original script her character had a one-night stand with the villain of the movie, she ended up pregnant from the encounter, Villain found out and managed to slip her some drugs that lead to a miscarriage. She was to then spend the rest of the movie trying to prove he did it. Unfortunately once the actress (who was Spanish) had her baby she moved back to Spain because that’s where she wanted it raised. That’s not the unfortunate part, what was unfortunate was, because of my procrastinating we only shot about half of her scenes before she left, so when I was editing, and the movie was 30 mins too long, her stuff was the first to go, because that story arc never resolved itself anyway. one of the scenes we did shoot, to take advantage of her six month pregnant state, was to shoot a dream sequence that she was going to wake up from. When we shot that scene I hadn’t yet purchased a computer capable of running editing software, so I put the tape aside. When I finally did get the computer and started cataloging all the tapes I noticed that one was missing, but thought “No big deal, I’m dumping that scene anyway” Then I came to edit a completely unrelated scene where the villain is woken up from a rough sleep by an intruder. Problem was the night we shot him waking up we were in a hurry and I didn’t get enough coverage of him sleeping. Solution: cut in the warm sentimental dream sequence, of the chick he had a one-night stand with, being pregnant, and turn it into a nightmare sequence. It fit the Character perfectly, but the footage is lost. I’ve looked everywhere for it and it’s gone, it’s the spider pit sequence, all I have left of it are two low res screengrabs I got from the old useless computer.
Do not let that happen to you, take care of every frame you shoot, like it’s your only child or if you don’t like children, a fine Persian rug.
The other thing is backup your computer. I had the movie in a 95% finished state,(I had just had my first meeting with a potential composer, about getting a score done for the movie) and had burned it off onto DVD, the problem was I had been using a temp soundtrack, because sometimes you don’t know “does this scene feel flat because it doesn’t have music or does it feel flat because it’s crap?” of course I don’t own the rights to any of the music used, so those DVD’s are useless in terms of salvaging the movie from the computer should it die, or the house burn down etc. So I was going through deleting all the music off the timeline, so that I could back it up in a useable form. As I was doing this CRACK the computer’s power supply exploded and filled the air with a gun smokey odour. I’ve taken it to a PC repair place (shut up Mac’ers if I could switch I would) and they said the hardrives should be fine, but everything else went with the power supply.
So that’s where the movie sits at present, marooned on a non-functioning computer, while I try and save what I can on my meagre wage to buy a replacement, while keeping my fingers crossed that all the data is still there when I do.
If not, I start again from scratch, which believe me I’ll do if that’s what it takes, but please no.
Hope these three installments were of some use to someone, and hopefully a few months down the track I’ll have a part 3B that’s full of good news.
And as promised here is the Trailer for the movie, I’ll post a NSFW version and a… I hesitate to say safe for work version, but certainly a safer for work version.