19 November, 2007
The REAL Production Diary
The NOV/DEC issue of ReelWest is out, which means that the issue featuring "Beast..." has been displaced on the shelves... which means it's now kosher for me to post this.
When the original ReelWest production diary was requested there was a miscommunication about length and what I wrote was fully three times the length they wanted... so the published version was heavily edited - and for those of you who read it some of that was very apparent.
Anyhow, the time has come to post the full length version. Enjoy.
"BEAST OF BOTTOMLESS LAKE" - Production Diary by Kennedy Goodkey
About a week in from touring a show in the Okanagan, Keith comes to me with an idea. It’s a film he’s calling The Dweller. It’s pretty high-concept. The ‘lost footage’ of a documentary of a group of hapless scientists trying to prove the existence of the Ogopogo, which has been re-cut and packaged as if it’s a horror film. I’m not sure if that last part works, but he grew up in Kelowna and knows his Ogopogo lore. He also has a funny idea for a scene about the anti-climatic demise of their proto-type equipment. It’s worth more thought and discussion.
Again on tour with Keith in the Okanagan. The Ogopogo film idea resurfaced, this time with a new name that plays the concept harder – Nightmare Beast of Blood Lake: A Scientific Overview. We spend a lot of our spare time brainstorming ideas and running around to the places catalogued in Arlene Gaal’s books where it has been seen. No doubt Rattlesnake Island would be central to the story.
Mark Leiren-Young hired both Keith and I for his Year in Revue show at the Waterfront Theatre. Keith and I have honed the idea a bit. We’ve dropped the ‘documentary packaged as a horror’ concept as being too convoluted a gag. Any joke you have to explain isn’t very funny. In it’s place we’ve decided to take aim at academia. Keith graduated from the UVic Theatre Department a few years before I arrived there. We have similar uncharitable thoughts about all the same professors – it’s a good starting place. For now we’re referring to it as The Ogopogo Project – definitely a place-holder. Mark, a long-time Ogopogo fan in his own right, loves the idea and is encouraging us onward.
Keith and I have been meeting weekly on Ogopogo we think we’ve got the essential story. I’ve been spending my weekends through the summer working on Meghan Ciana’s Sons of Cohen – which I also wrote – it’s enlightening. I’m learning a lot about how to shoot cheaply and how to capitalize the most on the least of resources – sadly Meg is also learning these lessons in the hardest of ways. In any case it’s making it clear to Keith and I that we could actually make this thing ourselves – but we aren’t sure either of us is ready to direct.
October 9, 2000
Sons of Cohen wraps on my birthday. A number of the cast and crew join me for shenanigans, though it’s not our official wrap party. Craig March and I get in a conversation about ‘what is next.’ Ogopogo comes up. Craig ended up playing the role that I had written with Keith in mind and though we only had about four days on set together we managed to bond a bit through the film and weekly pick-up hockey games.
As it turns out, Craig and Keith have wanted to work together for quite some time. Craig is feeling like he is ready to take another go behind the camera. I’ve heard a lot about his first effort Jerry’s Day through mutual friends. In our first meeting together, Craig floats the idea of having an extra layer to the documentary wherein the fictional film-maker is shooting a lot of footage clandestinely with hidden spy-cameras. It certainly bears more discussion.
By this point we have a very detailed treatment. We assemble some actors and cast ourselves in a few roles – Keith as the arrogantly book-smart but impractical team leader, Paul; Craig as the porn-director turned documentarian, Ernie; and myself as the brooding and useless physicist, Stewart – and do a few days of workshopping.
It has also occurred to me that the story we are telling is very much analogous to Moby Dick. From here on out I’m going to push it further in that direction whenever I can justify it.
A friend who knows a friend who knows a friend with money that he wants to invest in film got wind of what we are now calling ‘Pogo. We know we’re still a long way from really looking legit, no matter how well intentioned, so we again turn to Mark Leiren-Young for some advice and guidance. Mark gives us a serious make-over from the ‘script’ down. In the first place it’s still not really a script so much as an over-written treatment. He shoots holes in all sorts of specious plot-logic and has us cut scenes and characters with furious baby-killing abandon. Of course he is right – the treatment, which is starting to look like a script – is far tighter as a result. He also says about four sentences which turn into the final scene we never realized was missing.
Mark grooms us and the project for presentation to the potential producer. He also wakes us up to the hard facts about film-money and first-timers. It’s a long-shot. But our eyes are wide open.
We present The Beast via our contacts. No overtures for a face to face meeting are ever accepted.
With Mark’s encouragement we’ve kept tinkering and developing our package. Made some inquiries towards other potential avenues of production. We submit The Beast – re-written for Vancouver Island’s “Cadborosaurus” – to the CHUM/Bravo! Drama Initiative. I submit another script of my own. My other script is short-listed, but The Beast falls flat.
June 24th 2001
I find myself watching a very entertaining documentary on television about Sasquatch hunters. Lots of fertile soil for the seeds of inspiration. I call Keith and leave a message telling him that the doc is scheduled to be shown again later in the evening. A half-hour later the phone rings. It’s Janet, Keith’s wife. There has been an accident. Keith is gone.
The number of people who stood-up to be counted amongst Keith’s friends was astounding. You would have thought God died. And a lot of people connected in the industry. Mark has again been very helpful in guiding us through the wave of “Let’s make this film for Keith” energy. It’s been very encouraging, but as well meaning as it is, it’s not focused and we ourselves are in no way ready to forge through.
July 8th 2005
Before leaving my girlfriend’s this morning I read a newspaper article about the ridiculous stuff that people sell on eBay and get spectacular prices for. It’s actually kind of infuriating. ‘People! Use your powers for good, not evil!’ On the bike-ride home I got to thinking about what would be a righteous thing to sell on eBay when it came to me – credits in a film. The Ogopogo film – whatever it’s called – has been sitting on the back-burner for years. When I walked in the door I picked up the phone and called Craig. “I know how we might fund this damned thing. But we have to act fast or else someone else will do it.”
August 17th 2005
After a few harrowing weeks, we hosted a launch party last night. We formed a company – Provost Pictures, named after Keith -, had a website made, produced a brief teaser to illustrate the feel of the movie, picked a Spring 2006 production date, set-up three separate auctions and presented it all to a packed house at the Media Club Lounge. When we announced the actual auction there was literally a roar of excitement – surprised the living hell out of me. Today we’ve had a number of interview requests so hopefully this thing will take off.
August 26th 2005
The auctions closed today. Grand total – about eight hundred dollars. Hardly a budget. But we got some good attention in the media and a lot of people we know are excited that we’re back on task on this thing… we’ve got a placeholder name for it now: The Beast of Bottomless Lake. We needed to call it something for the launch, so we decided to harken back a bit to the horror-film title just for the time being. I’m sure we’ll come up with a better title – something that says ‘comedy’ more than ‘B-horror.’
I walked into a restaurant and a guy at a nearby table declared “Hey! You’re one of those eBay guys.” Turns out he works for Telefilm and we are on the radar. He told me to call him when we were ready.
We need someone who better understands the business of film than we do to be a co-producer. Marilyn Thomas is looking for her first feature. She’s got good credentials and she likes the project. Despite some amusing over-eagerness on Craig’s part she has said ‘yes’ and has come on board. Now we need to fill some other personnel holes.
We interviewed First A.D.s. Three of the first four applicants were ten minutes late apiece. Not an auspicious start. Luckily one stood out from the pack, Manjit. We had her start on the breakdown right away. We’ve also interviewed D.P.s – much better pickings. If anything the biggest problem is the preponderance of style. Lots of fledgling D.P.s out there dead-set on standing out with snazzy to spare – too soon out of film-school. If we wanted to make a Guy Ritchie film, we could out Guy Ritchie Guy Ritchie. Fortunately we won’t have to. Shari Bailey was the only interviewee who was able to sit down and tell us how our film looked – the act of which was impressive in it’s own right, the fact that she nailed it sealed the deal. She’s got a great egoless feeling style. She’s going to be a star, I’m glad we lucked out and get to use her before she is.
I have to wonder how many indie films at our level have publicists this early in the game? There are only really only two answers; 1) Those that don’t are fools; 2) It’s rare and thus would be a big leg-up on the competition. It occured to me that Rebecca Coleman must be into the swing of being a mother by now, and it would be a good chance for us to re-establish our friendship. She’s never done publicity for a film before, but she’s game. I know she’s good – and ‘good people’ so we’re well taken care of there.
May 11th 2006
Colour me stunned. Craig and I are off to the Okanagan once the weekend is over to meet with the Okanagan Film Commission, do some scouting and other business. Rebecca sent the Okanagan media a release to let them know we’d be in town in case they wanted to get an interview in the can for later. It seems that the release ended up on the news wire and god knows why, but it triggered some imaginations. And by ‘some’ I mean a LOT. I woke up this morning to a 7am call from the Globe and Mail. After forty five minutes of chatting with them there were already two messages in voice mail for other interviews. When Craig arrived at 11 he got on his cell and started doing interviews as well. It didn’t stop until after 5 o’clock. We were supposed to be preparing information packages for the Kelowna C.O.C.
May 12th 2006
Well, every article or news clip about the film is using our working title The Beast of Bottomless Lake. I guess it’s not our working title anymore.
May 18th 2006
I admit that it would have been nice to be leaving the Okanagan with the promise of more money, but apart from that the trip was an unqualified success. We arrived in Kelowna talking about shooting a week or so in the Okanagan. The Commission showed us how we could shoot the entire thing there. Granted, that is their job. At the end of our first whirlwind day we were standing across the lake from the Manteo Resort (one of the many places we scouted) and a Rainbow formed, shining down on the Manteo. It’s kind of comforting to think that perhaps Keith was sending us a message. The upside of all that press has been that the Centre for Arts and Technology in the Okanagan contacted us offering some assistance. We had a good meeting with their rep, Bob Sterling. We also received a well timed email from a local casting director, Siobhan Shaw, who expressed interest. We got the email an hour or so before our one and only evening off began, so we met her for drinks on a patio on the lake. She’s full of enthusiasm – perhaps too much! – but we’re going to see what comes of it. We stayed with Keith’s parents in Westbank. They were awesome.
June 16th 2006
Damn it, damn it, damn it! Marilyn went to Banff and was given a job offer that she can hardly be expected to turn down – certainly not over our ‘working for love & pizza’-level project. While this in itself is a problem, Craig is not only out of the country with Elaine, he is going to be out of all contact for the next ten days. I’m sure he could arrange contact if he had any idea that there was an issue of this depth – but even so, what could he do? Either way, it’s all on me. I need to have a new producer in place before Craig gets back here or there’s no way we are going to be shooting in September as planned.
June 19th 2006
It’s been whirlwind. I’m variously talking with about 12 different people. Actually started to lose track of what stage I was at in discussion with whom. So I sat down and made a list. When I got to the last name I wrote it down and started trying to figure out who he was and what we’d discussed. As I was doing that, the phone rang. It was him. He told me he was on his way over to discuss the project. Okay. That will clarify it for me.
June 20th 2006
David Jevons in his name. We went for dinner, and I talked to him about the possibility of producing for us. Soon he was telling me about his plans to make a film about the Ogopogo… and it all came rushing back. He WASN’T one of the people who I’d been talking to about producing at all! He had called me a day or two before Marilyn quit. I was watching the Stanley Cup finals, and only half paid attention. He had gone to the Okanagan Film Commission to discuss a film he wanted to make about the Ogopogo and they informed him that we had him scooped. Through our discussion we agreed that the options were: to go on working on separate and competing projects, potentially getting in each other’s way; one of us could simply quit – and it sure wasn’t about to be us; or we could combine efforts. I sent him off with a copy of the script. We’ll talk in a few days.
June 22nd 2006
David loved the script. We’ve all but committed to him stepping in as our new producer. He’s moving forward under the assumption that a meeting with Craig (when he returns) goes well. He’ll join us for the auditions the next week, and then head for the Okanagan to move things along there.
June 27th 2006
It is a done deal. David is our new producer.
June 30th 2006
Damn it all. Manjit has cash-flow problems. She can’t commit to the shoot. We are down a 1st A.D. It's understandable, people do have to pay the bills. Oh, to be able to pay people.
July 1st 2006
I ran into a ‘friend’ of mine at a barbecue tonight. She’s working as an Office P.A. for one of the successful local companies. Told her about the film and how we’re consciously setting out to do a bunch of things that would make the list of things an independent film should avoid – a main ensemble of seven, total cast of nearly forty, shooting on a various boats, locations spread through five cities, working with kids and animals. She scoffed and informed me that we are idiots and that it’s all impossible. Gee, thanks for your kind support.
July 3rd 2006
Auditions were a lot of fun. Justine is already set to play ‘Sondra’ so she came out and was our reader. There were some great discoveries in the auditions. Going in, Craig and I were both fairly certain that we knew who we were going to cast as Paul’s parents, Clive and Anna, but for both roles our favourites going in didn’t have great reads and in each case there was someone who stood head and shoulders above the rest. We’ve offered Clive to Gordon May and Anna to Christina Jastrzembska. There was some discussion about giving the roles to our original favourites, but the question came up ‘then why did we even have auditions?’ A great surprise in the role of the David Suzuki-esque ‘Tony Hashimoto’ – Aki Nagai did an average read in broken English, but when Craig asked him to do it in his native Japanese he was magic. Looks like we’ll be sub-titling that role.
The really exciting thing was casting the lead role of ‘Paul’ – Keith’s role. Craig and I had not spoken about it at all. Avoided it even. Sub-consciously we were both scared of giving that role away to someone who wasn’t Keith – but it’s not like there was an option if we were to move forward. First person on day one Maureen Webb brought in David Nykl. I had seen him in a stage-play a few years back. I knew that he’d been doing well for himself on Stargate Atlantis, but had never seen him on screen. He owned the role. It was nothing like what Keith would have done. It was exactly what we needed – a strong audition that shook us out of our pre-conceptions. Casting that role could have been a painful experience, but David saved us from that. We dutifully considered the other guys who came in, but David made it easy on us.
July 7th 2006
Craig and Shari and I drove up to the Okanagan to do a second round of scouting with David Jevons (now ‘DJ’ to avoid confusion with David Nykl.) Siobhan did a bunch of advance scouting of possible beachfront and forest. One of her finds – Bertam Park could be as many as four different locations for us. It was hit by the big forest fire in 2003 and while recovering has an amazing desolate look to the ravaged portions – will be a great stand in for Rattlesnake Island. The real Rattlesnake Island is too hard to get a crew to on our budget.
July 10th 2006
Craig has been cast in a substantial role in ‘The Englishman’s Boy.’ He’s going to be away in Saskatchewan for three of the last 8 weeks before we shoot in the fall. Luckily he’ll have a lot of downtime from shooting while there.
July 17th 2006
Craig was back in the Okanagan this weekend doing a casting session with Siobhan at CATO, the Centre for Arts and Technology. He stayed at the Jevons’ ranch in Penticton. Looks like the ranch will be production central while we are up there. I’ve reviewed the tapes and we’ve made our choices for the day players we’ll cast from the Okanagan.
August 4th 2006
Had a first read-through with the main ensemble and other Vancouver based cast this evening. Lots of fun. Good spirits.
August 11th 2006
DJ got word from the Union today. They declined our application for a waiver. No indication why. We meet all the stated requirements. Most frustratingly they gave us notification at 4:30, just as the office closes for the weekend, so we now have to stew in our own juices ‘til Monday. On top of that, Craig is getting on the plane to Saskatchewan this evening.
August 12th 2006
I know there is a lot of support in the acting community for this project – both because of Keith and in favour of the D.I.Y. spirit of it. I wonder how many signatures we can have in their inbox by Monday morning.
August 14th 2006
Over three hundred names. The vast majority of them UBCP members, many with additional personal notes attached declaring how important it is to support upstart indigenous production, so that perhaps someday our own industry might be as strong as the U.S. service provision that makes up most of the industry here. Sadly, the powers that be aren’t in the office today. That’s rather irritating. Not only do they wait to inform us just before the office closes, but they aren’t in the office on Monday!
August 15th 2006
Wow. Angry Union staff. Still not sure why we’ve been turned down. But we’ve been told that ‘the petition’ has ruined our chances of ever getting approval. Seems kind of like a childish reaction to me. We’ve also been told that ‘three hundred names means nothing’ and that it’s ‘just a drop in the bucket.’ I’m sure the Union members would be really happy to know that their individual opinions mean nothing to the staff – to say nothing of the contradiction that ‘three hundred names means nothing’ but it is enough to scuttle our chances of ever getting approval.
August 16th 2006
Now we’ve been told that we aren’t allowed to have Union members travel on a waiver agreement. I’m sure there’s some logic to this, but it would be nice if appeared in any of the literature about the waiver.
On the plus side, we’ve now been told that they are looking into possibilities which could work for us. Clock is ticking.
August 25th 2006
Next Monday is our self-imposed drop-dead date on a solution from the Union, but today we admitted that even that is too late. I’ll spend the weekend making calls to cast and crew telling them they have their September and October free. Shit.
August 29th 2006
The Union got back to us today with a specialized agreement. The “Membership Initiated Agreement.” I don’t know how realistic it is, but at least if we adhere to the letter, we can be confident we’ll get a ‘go ahead.’ But it’s too little, too late for now. Even the paperwork to get this together, let alone everything else we’ve put-off waiting for this news, could not be done in time for our scheduled shoot dates – even if today had been a reasonable drop-dead date.
December 11th 2006
Met with the Union staff today. Cooler heads have prevailed. We went through the M.I.P. and got questions answered, and expressed concerns about some of the realities within. Looks like we’ll be able to work it out by May.
In related news, since they turned us down, the Union has cancelled the waiver program entirely except for student productions – not their most popular move ever.
Met with DJ to establish a preliminary ‘to do’ list as we get this thing back on the tracks for the Spring. May seems so soon all of a sudden. I have to admit, if we can’t get this done this time around, I’m finished. I have to move on to something new.
April 4th 2007
A new round of auditions. The change of dates caused us to lose several ensemble members. We have to re-cast the roles of ‘Leslie,’ ‘Sondra,’ and ‘Neville.’ If there was ever a good argument for watching the tape, we witnessed it today. For Leslie, Craig and I were both impressed in the room by two of the women we saw. There were a few other solid auditions for the part, but those two struck us as stand outs and we couldn’t agree on which would suit us best. So we watched the tape – and quickly discovered that one of the other women who we weren’t even discussing impressed us both as much or better than the other two. To top it all off, she’s an old friend. Hooray, Bronwen Smith will be our Lesley! Roger Haskett, who played Paul in the teaser we shot nearly two years ago was not available to audition last summer, but came out this round and did a hilariously effluvious Neville. For Sondra, Leanne Jijian Hume was the first woman we saw. When she left, we knew that we had our Sondra. No other potential Sondras really gave us what we needed. We even considered bringing in one more hand-picked possibility on a subsequent day so that we could feel like we were making a real choice, but in the end we agreed Leanne won the part, it was hers.
April 9th 2007
Spent another weekend in the Okanagan. One more round of auditions, some tech-scouting, meeting with potential crew-members in the Okanagan… but more exciting, we shot three of our simplest scenes. It gave us a chance to work through some protocol and get used to the P2 dataflow with a reduced version of our crew. We’re still working without a 1st A.D. Caroline Battista is stepping in for Vancouver, but in the Okanagan we have yet to nail someone down.
We shot our first scene in the Jevons’ Ranch garage, with my friend Gabe Newman from University coming in on short notice to play our fisherman, Buck, in the ‘Dramatic Recreation’ of his encounter with the Ogopogo. That was Friday night. Saturday was kind of rough as Craig and I stayed awake all of the previous night excited and giggling that we’d shot our first scene.
The Ranch is going to be an awesome place to stay.
April 27th 2007
Craig and I went and hand-submitted our M.I.P. application to the Union today. It has been a big headache, to be honest. Working out the detail of the partner contract so that it conformed with the Union’s requirements, but who am I kidding? That’s the game. It’s not like jumping through bureaucratic hoops isn’t going to be a part of running a film company in the future.
May 2nd 2007
Scott John, one of my oldest friends in the world has come on as an investor and is also taking care of a number of Vancouver production details. He arranged for Craig and I to come and look at the Vancouver Mail Processing Plant downtown as an option for a few remaining locations. Craig and I were skeptical, but damn if Scott wasn’t right. Most of our University scenes can be shot at the VMPP, as well as the police station and one of our faux ‘expert interviews.’
May 5th 2007
Day One of two days of rehearsal. Our second ‘first read-through.’ Final costume meetings. I think we’ve got a good group here. We’ll have a lot of fun. I need to start turning my head from producing to performing. Only days until we’re all in the Okanagan and my ‘to do’ list is, thankfully, getting very short.
May 6th 2007
Really feel like I’m fumbling around. I’ve had this script, this character, in front of me for years – why do I suddenly feel at such a loss?
While Craig and I were in rehearsal DJ managed to answer most of our remaining equipment issues… which was a pleasant relief. Coming out of the studio into the rain knowing that I could actually go home and get most of a night’s sleep to head into the last week of prep, rather than worry about where were getting more P2s and within our meager budget.
May 7th 2007
DJ left for the Okanagan today with the advance team. Most of what I have left to do here is baby-sit the office and answer the phone. I have to wrap up details with the VMPP, supervise the picking up of equipment and transport vehicles, and the assignment of remaining cast and crew to vehicles, but the latter is largely being organized by my sister, Tara.
May 9th 2007
Craig and Rob leave this evening. DJ called and let me know that he and Kevin had solved the issue of the puppet Ogopogo. He assured me weeks ago that they could handle it cheaply once up there. I’m glad it’s taken care of, the options we were looking at here just weren’t practical in our budget. Jeremy will be coming by the office tonight to do the build of the Ness-sled, out last remaining (and arguably most important) prop.
May 10th 2007
Okay, this is getting excruciating. My job has really boiled down to waiting for people dropping by to pick stuff up or drop stuff off. Trish will drop off the remainder of the properties and the main picture vehicle, all-dressed, tomorrow. Jeremy is finishing up the Ness-sled this afternoon. I’ve done the tiniest bit of running around picking up last-minute forgotten gee-gaws. I’ve even made sure all my personal stuff is packed – and I’ve still got over a day of sitting around before I’m scheduled to leave. I swear I’ll be choked if something surfaces that I could have been doing now – but most of the action is in the Okanagan now. I totally feel like a spare part.
May 11th 2007
Got a call from Brie, who is coming up from Oregon to work as a PA. She got turned back at the border. Great, down a set of hands on what was already a very under-manned crew. On the plus side, Craig sent word today that he has met with a guy in the Okanagan, Ian, who can be our 1st A.D. Thank god, that was getting dire. CATO has also donated use of their jib and dolly as they are between semesters. We’d been planning on using them on a spot basis, but now we’ll have them on hand full-time in case inspiration strikes. Gordon, who is playing Clive, arrives from Vancouver Island tonight. He has totally bought-in and drank the cool-aid. He’s coming to the Okanagan for the duration and doing whatever we need him to do, in addition to driving our main equipment trailer with his Volvo.
It occurred to me at about 4pm that we haven’t got official word from UBCP! I called immediately to get an out of office reply. This falls into the ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ category. I called a few alternate numbers at the Union and left desperate messages. About ten minutes later I got a call. Turns out that we’d been approved, but no-one was informed before the appropriate messenger had gone on holidays.
May 12th 2007
Picked up the LX and Grip package with Gordon and Shari this morning – it was a little early coming, Gordon and I hit it off really well and talked late into the night. After we were loaded up, Shari hit the road directly. Gordon and I went back to the office to wait for the confirmations that everyone else was on the road who was supposed to be, with the passengers they were supposed to have. Gordon and I were the last two vehicles on the road – he with the equipment trailer, me in the picture vehicle – ‘The Juanabees van.’ He picked up David Nykl, and I was traveling alone. I had been meant to be traveling with Brie, but with no Brie… It actually worked out quite well. I caught up and passed Gordon and David twenty minutes before the Coquihalla toll-gate. Shortly thereafter I started talking to Keith – or to myself, depending on your perspective. It wouldn’t have happened with Brie there. In minutes I was crying like I haven’t in years, and I cried most of the way to Merritt. I guess I needed it. Worked out a lot of my bottled up tension and emotion.
May 13th 2007
Woke up early and had breakfast with Leanne on the porch watching the Ranch’s horses, and discussing the relationship between our characters. We were soon joined by David and Gordon.
After breakfast I did some running around with Gordon, up to Kelowna and back – lots more chat-time. He’s a great guy. We’re a bit ‘Mutt and Jeff.’ I think we got really lucky with him in our camp.
We barely made it back to the ranch for the third ‘First Read-through,’ this time with the Okanagan cast. It was great to see and hear all these people. It was great that so many showed up on Mother’s Day.
The Ranch is packed to the rafters with people. Kevin is sleeping behind a couch. I’m sleeping in the Juanabees van. We are hardly the only ones sleeping in odd places.
May 14th 2007
Bertram Park. The first shot of the film – not counting the advance shoot from May – is of Young Paul as a child with his home-made Ogopogo. It’s a great celebratory feel on the beach.
The day is chaos. Despite our efforts to get through some of the first-day teamwork issues by shooting some in May, things do not go smoothly at all. Most of the day is at the end of the dock. I spend most of my day on shore dealing with everything I can think of in order to help things go more easily… I have no idea if anything I did really had an appreciable impact, but by the end of the day I am totally exhausted.
It’s also the day that my niece, Kaz, is on-set. She demands a lot of my attention despite having a chat in advance about it.
Naturally we over-shoot like crazy on the first day. We go into the sixteenth hour. At least it’s behind us. We learn a lot.
Ian, while a good guy, and far from useless is not really ready to be a 1st A.D.
Our rotating Okanagan props-masters are not going to work – from here out it’s my on-set job (not counting acting, still doing scattered Producer things, and making decisions as the writer). It’s more to take on, but it’s what makes most sense, I was the one who worked most closely with Trish and Jeremy, no one in the Okanagan knows as much about the props as I do.
May 15th 2007
Media Day. Back at Bertram Park. Several Okanagan media outlets visit the set during our lunch break. We’re shooting at the far end of the park today. This is where the fire did the most damage. There is no cover, and our tents are small. Three crew members go down to sun exposure, including Shari. It’s a second brutal day in a row. I miss the worst of it as I’m not in the scene in question and have plenty of other things to get dome. Finally in the afternoon I get in front of the camera for my first scene. Having missed the morning, I feel like the rest of the ensemble is already ahead of me in camaraderie and character – luckily I don’t have much to do but stand and listen.
Before bed the camera crew informs me that they can’t read any of the data on the hard-drive. We may have lost two very tough days of footage. I ask them to keep the news from Craig until we know for sure, he doesn’t need the extra stress if it’s un-necessary.
May 16th 2007
Manteo Resort. Finally a day where I’m more of an actor than anything else, but it starts with a mad scramble to get everything dressed in time to be shot. I think I ran for nearly three hours straight. My knees were screaming in agony, but my head was shouting ‘this is awesome!’
Keith’s parents Clare and Lainie visited us on set today. Rebecca is also here – not only for media day yesterday, but we’ve cast her as a bitchy hotel clerk. She does a bang-up job.
Mid-day it comes to my attention that despite this being a much easier day than either of the previous two that there is mutiny afoot amongst the core crew. I feel like an idiot for being so out of touch with it thus far, but it’s clear to me that I have to get to work. Gradually over the day I speak to each of the individuals involved and pin-point what their issues are. For the most part I discover that the mood was exaggerated and nowhere near as universal as I was led to believe, but there are a few people who genuinely do need some concerns dealt with. I promise to get to work on those concerns if they can promise to forge onwards long enough for me to do so in the minute holes I have in my schedule.
After a relatively short day, we get back to the ranch to news that Russell, who was to arrive from Vancouver tomorrow has had a personal emergency. He cannot come. He has taken the initative to contact Alex Zahara who he knows we had also considered for the role. Alex is ready to be meet us in Kelowna by Noon tomorrow for his first scene. Not only is it pretty much already done for us, but we know Alex will be great. It’s a no brainer.
Time for Craig and I to chat.
I let him know that the footage is gone from Day One and almost all of Day Two. He knew it was in the air. We put a plan together to deal with the problem. There’s a chance someone can rescue the data, so before we start arranging a re-shoot, we’ll ship the drive to Vancouver for a quick assessment.
May 17th 2007
Shelter Bay Marina. A very fast day. And very fun.
Alex and I have a scene together. My first scene where I actually say something! Unfortunately it includes a line of techno-babble that I can only blame myself for writing in the first place. I can barely get it past my lips.
We also shoot the speed-boat scene. Very fun. Very fast. Lots of delighted hollering on my part. I didn’t have to act to pretend to be having an awesome time.
The mood on set raises in all ways. Everyone seems to be having a much better time.
Upon getting back to the Ranch we discover that ‘Captain Bob’ has booked a cruise Monday afternoon on the “Princess” the boat whose use we’ve had donated to the film. It is his livelihood, but damn! It echoes a situation that occurs late in the film – what is it about the process of making a movie being an analogue of the film itself? Great, we’re making ‘Moby Dick’ – which one of us is Ahab? Recall the whale drags him down to a watery death.
May 18th 2007
Today we shot in downtown Kelowna. The Sails public art sculpture is one of the few genuine and specific Okanagan landmarks in the film. I’m not in the scene, so I go and have ‘second breakfast’ with Bronwen and Roger. It’s a good chat, I’m glad to find out that I’m not the only one who is still trying to figure out where their character lives.
In the afternoon we shoot traveling shots of the Juanabees van on the Okanagan Lake Bridge. It’s rush hour on a holiday weekend. I’m driving. It’s got to be the most un-cool filming I’ve ever done in my life. Stressful as all hell, and it seems we are pissing off the entire population of the West bank as they try to get home.
Oddly, when we finish the scene and I park the van, standing on the curb with her jaw at her knees is an ex-girlfriend I haven’t heard from in years. I hardly have time to say ‘hi’ – luckily we have a high-school reunion approaching next month.
We end the day with a University scene in a classroom at CATO. I have more to do this time, but again it’s still pretty much secondary to the scene. We leave most of our stuff there as there is underground locked parking and we’ll be back tomorrow to shoot in the underground lot.
May 19th 2007
The underground was great fun. A goofy set of scenes. It was also nice to have so much room, yet not be moving around or worrying about interruptions by the public. Conveniently it was also the first day that we haven’t been shooting under the sky, and it chose today to rain. A good light mood around the ranch tonight. Leanne, Craig, Shari and Roger all have loved ones who have come to visit for the holiday weekend. Evenings at the ranch have always been a good time for unwinding – some beer, some wine. The heads gathering at the end of the fence. Not to mention Janet and Garner. They show up every night at the ranch – often before we do, but no on our shorter days – and have a full and varied meal made for us in reasonably short order. I don’t know if they’re gifted cooks or if it just seems that way ‘cause we’re always hungry and thankful that it’s not us doing the prep. Life at the Ranch has become a very special part of the shoot, despite the fact that we’re practically sleeping in each other’s suitcases. Tonight we have a bit more room to relax. Tomorrow is a ‘day off.’
May 20th 2007
My ‘Day Off’ is spent finishing the assembly of the Ness-sled support equipment. Pretty much takes me all day. I’m sure I could have recruited some help, but I was happy to just plug away at it myself. It gave me time to reflect on what I’m doing in front of the camera. It has occurred to me that I’m in a different film from everyone else. The only day that is likely to have suffered in any way from that is yesterday, but even by then I was bringing my level up from what had been in my head. Funny how six other ensemble members playing at a different pitch from what I’ve envisioned for years can out of necessity change what I’m doing. There’s definitely a happy medium between what I imagined and where they are that ‘Stewart’ can live in. I’m not used to being the straight man – definitely some adjustment to be made.
We’ve got word that there is a chance that we can get the data off the original hard drive (we have bought another one) but it hadn’t been fully backed up when it crashed and we’re going to have to go back to Bertram Park. We have to re-live the two most hellish days we’ve had. Great. At least we don’t have to re-shoot everything, and we’ve got past the ‘too precious’ and over-shooting stages. We should be able to get it all in one day.
May 21st 2007
An early start so we can be done before the cruise. We shoot the aftermath of the Ness-sled disaster. Finally I have a scene with some meat to it. We also shoot a few small scenes and get some establishing footage of the boat. It’s a light day, which is good because we really need to learn how to work together in the confined domain of the boat, but it comes fairly quickly.
Even with a long lunch we are done so far in advance that it seems we can shoot something that wasn’t on the schedule. Alex, David and My big scene in the wheelhouse was scheduled for next week, but we have all we need. The three of us sit down with the script, plough through our lines and figure out how the scene lives on the set. It feels great. We finish the day one scene up, I feel like I’m finally getting to act in this film and the tone on set has clearly turned around for the better.
May 22nd 2007
Back at Bertram Park.
We don’t know where we’ll shoot it, but the ‘press conference’ scene was going to be shot at the Summerland Yacht Club today. We’ll get it in Vancouver… somewhere.
Re-shooting the park goes well. We finish mid-afternoon. It certainly helps that Ian is starting to come into his own by now. He still needs good support to keep the set running, but it’s no longer the clown-show it was on Day One.
David and Gordon’s scene on the end of the dock is going to be really touching.
May 23rd 2007
Summerland Yacht Club. Back on the boat. It is crazy windy. But it works. Today is one of two days of shooting the Ness-sled’s ignominious maiden voyage. The wind is blowing David’s already out of control hair all over the place. It makes the build up seem all epically dramatic – should work great.
Back at the ranch (it was only a matter of time before I gave in to that phrase) Shari sits down with me and gives me some bad news. She’s been called to a paid gig in New York. We knew this could happen. She’ll shoot tomorrow, but then she’s got to go. She’s also got four days booked when we’re back in Vancouver. We need to find someone to cover for her back home. For here it looks like it’s going to be Patrick Henry’s job. He’s been operating our ‘A’ cam and working most closely with her. He’ll also have additional support from Rob whose been op-ing ‘B’ cam as the videographer who appears in the film, documenting the expedition. No doubt now that we’re feeling like more of a ‘well-oiled machine’ the rest of the crew will be good support to Pat too.
May 24th 2007
A blistering day. We’re shooting mostly in the parking lot and on the wharf today. Pretty uneventful really. We finish early, but I have to go back a few hours later to dress the boat for tomorrow’s wedding scene. Luckily I have some assistants arriving. When I get back to the Ranch from dressing the boat I head up the hill with Bronwen, Leanne and David to Bronwen’s brother in-law’s place to listen to their band practice. On our way there, a run-away horse trots past us on the road… and then turns into the ranch! We run back only to see the aftermath of the panic which occurred on the porch – the horse ran right through where everyone was having dinner!
We piled into vehicles and went off looking for a thrown rider. We found her pretty soon. She was fine. We directed her to her horse and made our way up to the rehearsal. It was a surreal, but excellent evening.
May 25th 2007
We lost the Ness-sled. Too many cooks in the kitchen. In an ironically too-much-like-the-film manner we lost the Ness-sled. I know I’ll be telling this tale until the day I die.
The morning was spent shooting the Ness-sled going into the water. We got what we absolutely needed, but then we went to shoot the underwater shot of the same. There were too many different versions of what the plan was, and a perfect storm of miscommunication hit. Everyone managed to be acting upon the one element of their own version of what was going on to ensure disaster. It’s a long story to get into in detail, but suffice to say that we were in WAY deeper water than planned, the sled was not only not properly tethered – it wasn’t tethered at all.
When it dawned on me that the Ness-sled was gone forever, I looked up and there was David with a shit-eating grin on his face. “Well, that was ironic.” I muttered with equal parts amusement and fury. God I hope the EPK team was rolling on that, ‘cause already there are a half-dozen Rashomon-esque versions of what happened. I’d love some clarity.
In the evening we shot the wedding. Possibly our biggest actual scene in the film – the most extras, long, lots of lights and at night. We weren’t able to get out of there until 1am. Luckily there isn’t much left to get tomorrow.
May 26th 2007
A short day for most of us. Bronwen was on a plane to a wedding by mid-afternoon. Most of the rest of us were wrapped. A small team went back to Bertram again for some pick-ups.
Those of us who were wrapped hung out at the ranch. Mostly in silence watching the horses. Every now and then one of us would mutter something like ‘cherish this’ and there would be a mumbled chorus of agreement.
Definitely these two plus weeks in the Okanagan have been a special time. This was supposed to be the hard part of shooting this film… and we’ve made it.
Some teary goodbyes. Siobhan was with us for every day of the shoot. She became so much more than a casting director for us. One of the many who can genuinely say that the film would not have happened without them. And Ted Farkas – god I wish I’d mentioned Ted before now. He was really special to us. He’s a retired accountant who just decided to toss his hat in with this crew of ‘head in the sky’ film-makers. Again he was there every day and did what ever we needed him to do. If I’m not mistaken, he left the set at the end of the day quite abruptly because he was starting to get choked-up and perhaps didn’t us to see him that vulnerable.
May 27th 2007
Leanne and I drove back to Vancouver today. Actually all of the cast is traveling today. There is still a day of shooting in the Okanagan, plus a schwack of clean up, but someone needs to be in Vancouver to get things in place for once everyone returns.
May 28th 2007
Uh oh. I feel a cold coming on. Damned change of climate.
May 30th 2007
I’ve found options for the locations that we need to add to Vancouver – except for a marina and a secluded beach… if it wasn’t for the loss of those first two days, we might have been able to push through and get the scenes for those more easily in the Okanagan. In any case, the rest will get us through the first week, and then we have several things secure for a few days before we need to have the last pieces in place.
June 2nd 2007
Well, the cold hit me like a tonne of bricks. I was of little use for the last two days. But this morning we shot the bar-scene up the street from my place at my local watering hole – Falconetti’s. Leanne’s husband, Bob, then got us into his school as a good alternate place for the ‘press conference.’
On the first take of Paul’s breakdown, David brought a tear to my eyes. A combination of missing Keith and David putting it out of the park – leaving me as the writer feeling guilty that I have done this to this man, this fictional character. I caught a shuddering breath which drew a sharp look from Caroline – a well deserved one, I was much louder than I expected to be.
We finished up the day – it was a long one – at Craig’s agent’s where we shot the Tony Hashimoto scenes. As predicted Aki Nagai was spellbinding.
At the end of the day Shari pulled me aside. She’s shooting tomorrow, but is then off the project permanently. Luckily tomorrow we have Naim Sutherland coming by to check out the set. He was going to step in for the four days Shari was going to be gone, but perhaps we can convince him to stay for the duration.
It was nice to have an experienced 1st A.D. on set too. Caroline is awesome and with all due respect to Ian, who did come a long way, there wasn’t a crew member who didn’t comment upon it.
June 3rd 2007
VMPP. Another day where I get to be nothing more than a crew-member. After all my grousing about not getting to do any meaty acting at the start, today was kind of nice.
Gordon is sleeping on my couch for the Vancouver portion of the shoot. We woke up this morning and hauled the trailer down to the postal plant. Scott met us there and we loaded into the basement.
These are the earliest scenes in the movie we are shooting today.
Scott had his roommate Jill cater the weekend for us. Janet and Garner had us eating well in the Okanagan, but I think Jill is out-doing them. Spectacular.
Janet, Keith’s wife came and played a small role today. That was cool.
Mark Leiren-Young, our original story editor, also joined us for a cameo. But the real gem was Caroline. When we were doing a schedule shuffle a few days back we realized that there had been a miscommunication with our actor playing the University Dean, she wouldn’t be available on the only day we could shoot her. Caroline declared that she wanted to get back into acting. I was amused and laughed. I think she thought I was scoffing and immediately started reading the scene. She was good. And we had little time to look for other solutions, so this made it pleasantly simple. Today she was great, very belittling and funny.
June 4th 2007
Day Two at the VMPP. Gawd! Bertam Park was hot, but holy heck! The classroom we were shooting in most of the day today was outrageously hot. A long day.
The VMPP has been good to us though. It was an exciting place to shoot and we were able to shoot in places which may never be filmed again as the building has been sold and is almost certainly going to be razed.
June 5th 2007
Sizer house. The first of four days in one location. We’ve never been able to settle in like this anywhere before.
Today we shot-out the basement.
The highlight for me was the ‘going to bed’ scene between me and Roger. There were a few things that had to happen in it, but for the most part he and I were allowed to just play. Every take we took it a bit farther, and every time Craig called ‘cut’ the release of laughter was bigger. The final take had a happy accident as in the last moment a pile of previously un-noticed books which must have been being agitated a bit in each take chose that last moment to collapse upon my head. We had to call it done then, there’s no way we’d duplicate that moment. I just hope there’s a take where the fact that everytime I turn away from the camera I’m laughing my guts out isn’t obvious.
Most fun I’ve had in a scene since we shot the speed boat.
June 7th 2007
Our second day of shooting upstairs at the Sizer house. Fairly short day there actually. By mid afternoon we were shooting in the forest, and then breaking before moving on to the beach for a guerilla night shoot.
The campfire beach party scene was a challenge. The first part needed to be at sunset, and the clouds were not co-operating. When we finally got a good break in the clouds we had about 20 minutes before the sun disappeared behind the horizon. Somehow we managed to shoot a four-minute scene about seven times in that window – even with an ill-timed visit by the beach patrol. The second half of the scene was easier to shoot. It was pretty free-form and was shot by campfire light after dark.
June 8th 2007
Our exterior day at Sizer house. I totally screwed up. My costume got set aside last night where I wouldn’t forget it. Well, guess what? I guess I could blame my head – the cold is getting worse. I really can barely think straight, but either way it is still me who blew it.
In Vancouver traffic it’s over a half-hour drive each way. I also didn’t notice until I’d been on set for over an hour. It was scheduled to be a long day already.
Apart from the pressure of trying to get everything done the day went mostly smoothly. One complex jib-shot took a lot of takes to get right.
Gordon again breaking hearts with his wounded Clive, dancing with Christina on the lawn.
With one scene left to shoot we were pretty much running out of light. We could go for it and hope for the best, or we could re-invent the scene and move back inside. Craig and Naim, on Caroline’s recommendation, opted for the latter and concocted a one-er for a three page scene. The shot is now a focus-pulling tour de force… or I imagine it is. I have yet to see the print.
June 13th 2007
Four days off to allow for people’s schedules – we thought that things would be easier once we got to Vancouver, but real life is seriously impinging upon our ability to keep momentum.
Four days has allowed my cold to get a bit better. I think I passed the zenith yesterday – the pressure peaked and eased in one day, but got bad enough in that time that it was loosening teeth on the side where my sinus was worst! Poor Gordon has had to live with my hacking and grousing over my misery.
Four days was barely enough to find a marina in, Craig found one yesterday while I was convalescing. But it’s going to cost us. We can muster the money, but it’s not really in the budget.
Today we shot on Seymour mountain. It was the Juanabees Van’s last day. Up and down the mountain four times in a day. Three different scenes.
Then we splintered. Craig went and shot Neville finding civilization and getting kicked in the shin. The only thing on hand to protect his leg was a rolled up copy of the UBCP agreement. As it was stuffed into his sock Roger quipped “this is the most the Union has protected me in years!”
Meanwhile, David, Fabrice, Rob and I got some second unit footage of the van in transit before we lose it forever. David was like a little kid directing shots. We found some nice stuff – I’m sure the prettiest stuff will prove to be the least appropriate for the film.
June 14th 2007
Janet joined us on set for the last day.
DJ nixed paying for the marina. So Craig found a rock jetty and I re-wrote the scene in the afternoon. As night fell we met and began to invent how we were going to shoot the thing. DJ and Naim went and bought a bunch of 1K flashlights. We shot the entire scene practically, with the team using flashlights to find Paul in the dark. At the beginning of the night I was thinking that we were just shooting this so that we’d have something to edit in and that we’d take another crack at it in reshoots under better circumstances. But by the end of the night I was thinking that we got it. I think there is a great little scene there.
We wrapped around 2am with very little ceremony. I didn’t have the energy to be emotional. I took a brief moment kneeling in the sand to take in the sensation, but that was all I could manage. I don’t think I had another take in me. By the end it was all I could do to croak out my lines. Those four altitude changes yesterday were brutal on my cold. Shooting at midnight at the beach isn’t going to make things any better. I’m sure it’s not going to kill me, but it does appear as though I am Ahab. We may have got the picture, but this film got me too.
I suppose that we managed to finish pretty strongly — I am sick as a dog, but apart from that, strongly – and while there were inevitable issues to deal with along the way, we feel really good about most of what we accomplished in this past month. The fact that things have gone well perhaps makes this less emotionally charged than the uncertainty of the beginning was. Back when we were told that we were idiots and that what we were attempting was impossible.
But there we go. We are done. …shooting.
Date Posted: 11/19/2007