09 June, 2009

Disaster Narrowly Averted

So here's a tale of woe...

There is a very important shot in the film that has been concieved and re-concieved many times. Originally we thought 'CGI', but were talked out of it in favour of practical effects. The basic argument could be summed up by "Puppet Yoda is far more compelling than CGI Yoda." So we made a serious attempt to do it practically.
We brought in a specialized props builder whose bottomline budget would have added 20% to our budget for that single shot. Not exactly a change we could truly afford.
We simplified the shot and the requirements of the hero prop. We planned to shoot it on our first day so we could come back and take second cracks at it. But... our first day was one of our worst days on set. We as a crew were learning a lot about each other and getting used to the time limitations of our tight schedule. We didn't make our day and one of the shots we didn't get was that one.
On day two we were back at the same location and while we didn't have time to shoot that shot (the second day was probably our WORST day thanks to extreme temperatures and no real cover from the sun) we did pick up a complimentary shot.
Roughly a week later we found ourselves back at the location again - a separate story in it's own right, told elsewhere - and this time getting the shot in question was high priority. Various efforts were made and the prop didn't really work right. Fingers were crossed, all efforts were made. We would have to see how it came out in the dailies.
Again our tight schedule interfered and it was over a month before that footage was watched. It probably seems obvious, but this should not have happened. It did happen though, and it's no one person's fault. It just happened. Prey of such a small amount of time with relatively few people available to get everything done. If we had it to do again, this is one thing that we'd spend more effort prioritizing. Lesson learned.
When we finally did get to see the footage... well, I'm sure you can guess - it failed to suffice, and that was not really a big surprise.
From there I can't really recall how we managed to form our new plan. It probably came together in stages over a long period of time and probably in part by accident. When we were looking for Telefilm funding we definitely priced out CG that would be very similar to what we would eventually settle upon.
I am being deliberately cagey here as I don't want to give plot details away, but what basically happened is that we chose to NOT take another run at practical effects in our reshoots, slightly changed the end of the film and decided that we would re-purpose a shot (The 'complimentary' coverage we picked-up on day two suddenly found itself arguably being the most important shot in the entire film!), and go right back to the origninal plan of using CG animation.
Luckily in the two years since we shit-canned the original CG animation plan, a lot has been done in the software world. Getting what we needed for our budget (we never did get Telefilm money, so our budget is practically made up of goodwill) was actually possible.

We brought someone on who promised to have us a working rough for our submission to the Toronto International Film Festival. There was plenty of time for that. Long story short: on the day that we were to see our first version for approval we recieved a message that a sudden family tragedy had just occurred and it would not be done, not only on time, but ever.
Do not get me wrong, my heart goes out to the family for whatever it was that happened... but in our world this was a disaster. All we had for the TIFF submission was a goofy hand drawn temp graphic, patched in with After Effects. Yoiks, Scoob!
To make matters worse, so much of the time we had to get it done in had been burned up. A suddenly very short schedule on top of our lack of budget was quite possibly a show-stopper - and we had already paid our TIFF application fee.
We scrambled through a variety of options - most of which were way out of our budget range, others of which understandably spooked when they found out how short their schedule would be.

And the consequent tale of salvation...

As things looked most dire, we were turned towards a new company - Vividus - who might be interested in the challenge. Thanks to Bob Hume of PHD productions (and husband of Leanne Jijian Hume who plays 'Sondra' in "Beast...") for pointing us their way.
When Mike and Craig arrived at the Vividus office they already had a wireframe ready - up on their computer screens for inspection. Clearly they really wanted this project. And they got it. We'll see how their chops are next week.

No comments: