02 November, 2008

Art? Life? Which is immitating which?

Okay, this has nothing to do with us, but it is about independent film making.

If you read the entry wherein I posted the full text of our Reel West article, you'll recall that in the article I noted the phenomenon where the making of the film becomes an analogue for the film itself.

Sometimes that's only the tiniest glimmer of the circumstance.

Warning, this one is fucked up.

19 August, 2008

Take 2

I really intended to post something before this past weekend, but circumstances had other plans for me. Just your run of the mill 'not enough hours in the day' stuff.

This past weekend - August 15th to 17th - we did pick-ups and reshoots on "Beast..."

For the most part it was fun and at a relatively relaxed pace. Though the last day didn't quite work out as planned, but I'll get to that.

Friday we had a late morning start and spent a lot of the day at the park & beach picking up a handful of small shots that we've discovered in editing that would highly benefit the story telling within the film.

In the afternoon we moved over to Craig's apartment. The timing was less than ideal in that we were a dozen or so people crammed into a one bedroom apartment at the hottest time of the hottest day of summer so far (a record breaker, in fact) and we had a couple of 1K lights shining down upon us.
We got some coverage of Leanne and I for two differnt scenes, and then added some additional inserts and pyrotechnics that we'd been unable to shoot last spring.
The pyro was amusing. I had consulted David Barkes last year on the matter, and combined with some previous theatrical application, we'd decided to use flash paper in a metallic garbage can. There was a lot of paranoia about the effect, though I was confident - I'd used flash paper in my bare hand on stage, I knew it was as safe as could be expected. Nonetheless it was prudent to be extra prepared with extinguishers and other devices intended to contain the fire should everything go wrong. After all that prep, the initial problem was quite the opposite. Due mostly to technique the paper didn't catch fire - the matches were out by the time they got to the paper. When that issue was worked out, the first actual working shot was spectacular and got great oohs and ahhs from everyone. The flame had actually gone so high that it was a bad shot, so we had to do it a few more times. The last attempt - where we used some extra paper for longer burning time and shot it at high speed (for slow motion) - was truly spectacular. I did a dance of joy.
Burning things... fun.

We ended the day with shooting a scene we'd originally decided to cut.
Those of you familiar with Moby Dick will be aware of the chapters that I refer to as the 'documentary' chapters. They don't technically advance the narrative, but they do add something to the book. Chapters on the nature of the colour white, the variety of whales, the use and creation of marine rope... there are dozens of these chapters covering a huge range of topics.

To the best of my knowledge, no other work based on Moby Dick has ever tried to include this aspect of the book - which is one of it's more fascinating features. Granted, it's not such an easy task. The structure of our film allows us a unique opportunity to include an equivalent - documentary interview moments with fictional Ogopogo experts, who each provide a small tidbit of information or thematic layering to the whole. We cut the 'Sheriff Snider' interview during principle photography last year because of scheduling issues. But in editing we've discovered that we don't really have enough experts to sell the trope. So we added 'Sheriff Snider' back in. We also added a brand new expert to be shot first thing the next day...

Saturday began in the afternoon. In my Mother's living room, filming one of our favourite actors, Mary Black, who we've been trying to get into the film for ages, but it has just never quite worked. Mary was very funny, and she nailed her brief 'expert' monologue in no time.

From there we went to our editor's office to shoot a few inserts to existing scenes against his handy wall. David Nykl and I got to revisit our only two hander scene, though only for a very brief moment. Ironically the scene is dominated by a torrent of verbal effluvia from David, while I say almost nothing... but guess which character's arc is being improved by the new version? You guessed it, mine.

Back to Craig's for dinner and to wait for nightfall, as the rest of what we had scheduled was all to be shot in the dark. Dinner - put together largely by Elaine, Craig's wife, was as good as we had anytime on set - and we had a number of fantastic meals served up by Garner and Janet in the Okanagan or by Jill and Scott at the postal plant. We also got to show those who were present a small portion of what has been edited thus far. It was an unintended side effect, but everyone was pleased by what they saw and the already good mood was raised to genuinely high-spirits.

The evening was a mix of inserts of various props doing various necessary things as well as getting additional detail of both David on his own and Roger and I together for the 'wedding scene' so that we can better refine and pace the gags.

Saturday was a little extra fun for me as Jodie (my girlfriend) was able to join us on set and help out. She'd never been on set before so it was a novelty for her. She took all the pictures we have included.

Sunday morning we were back at the home of Brian Sizer, for the most part to get additional footage of Roger and I interacting again - this time for the 'going to bed' sequence, which is already fairly amusing, but with better coverage and more precise performances should play much better on screen.

The shoot up to this point had gone quite well. But it would stumble a bit in the next few hours. We were longer than expected at the Sizer house, and there were a small number of miscommunications in getting to our next location. The sunny day had brought far more people than anticipated to the location and parking became a nightmare. Noise was too much for the dialogue we needed to record, and as if that weren't enough... the sun which had been oppressive for two days began to disappear as we were approaching the last two scenes we truly needed it for. Argh!

We bailed on that location and went to our next one, crossing our fingers that we'd have a chance later in the day to finish up. Suffice to say that the weather didn't do what we needed it to do. We DID get what was intended to be the last scene on the schedule - which didn't need the sun - but we didn't get those last two scenes. Mark Redsky had come out to set and never got used. I hated having to do that to him, but he was good natured about it.

We finished up the weekend with pizza and beer back at my place. It had not been the plan to finish there. We'd hoped to be in the park! But that same damned weather ruined that plan at the last moment too. We watched the rain from my balcony, knowing we'd have to all reconvene yet again, but the mood was positive.

Everyone had seen a good chunk of the film in it's current state and could appreciate how the good work we'd done in these last three days would improve it manifold.

We're hoping to shoot those last bits next weekend - or as soon as possible thereafter. But Craig is going in for surgery next week and he's going to be largely unavailable as a director for a bit. We'll pretty much have to temporarily forge on without him. Sooner the better to finish up is the philosophy. The needs of the remaining footage to be shot is fairly self-evident and we already have the template of the existing footage to go by.

Hope for sun.

19 July, 2008

Dr. Horrible... a kindred.

The clock is ticking on this one.

As of this writing, there are 29 hours left to watch "Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog." on line for free.

Go. Do it now.

Is it after midnight on June 20th? Okay, go to iTunes and down load the episodes (sorry, you'll have to pay).

It's a project that Joss Whedon put together over the writer's strike to prove a point.

As he says in his "Master Plan" he did it cheap in order to prove how much can be done with so little, and that that can be turned around and made profit upon on the internet by the creator, rather than going through a distributor or a network. No doubt, more easily accomplished in his position, but definitely food for thought - there is no doubt that the internet is consuming all other media access routes and the survivors will be getting on board now... the only real question is "How is this going to work?"

It's a question Provost Pictures has asked of ourselves. Our future lies out there too. I still hope we can find a distributor or broadcaster, there's no reason to think we won't. But if we don't... we'll be trying our hand at internet self-distribution. I am excited to try. Maybe some day "Beast" will be available via iTunes!

Anyhow, I hope JW can make it work. It's a fun little show - perhaps 45 minutes long, and very much NOT what you'd expect from someone working under the thumb of a 'system'... oh, wait a second, for "Dr. Horrible..." Joss was already out from under any kind of system. It is exciting. And the 'To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way.' and 'Proving we can turn Dr Horrible into a viable economic proposition as well as an awesome goof will only inspire more people to lay themselves out in the same way. It’s time for the dissemination of the artistic process. Create more for less.' parts... those sound an awful lot like what Craig and I have been telling each other for three years now.

Me happy.

We go watch Dr. Horrible again, before it's not free anymore.

(And buy the DVD when it comes out.)

09 June, 2008

More Cutting, More Fun

Oh happy day.

Sat down with Mike to watch the first twenty minutes or so fo the film yesterday.
Significantly there is an aspect of the film which there has been some question about how it should work visually.
Craig and I have naturally talked about it a lot in the past years of preparing the film. We even made a point of showing sample scenes to various people to get a sense of whether they thought it worked or not. For the most part there has been no problem with our plan... but three people on the inside of the production have expressed their own doubts - emphatically. Craig and I decided to give Mike a chance to solve the problem his own way in the editing room... though I have to admit we were both skeptical. Yesterday we got to see if it was going to work.
It works. I am very happy about that. There is no need for any argument. Yay!

In other news...

I was sent a fun link this morning. I admit, I'm a Firefly fan. I've actually watched a shamefully small amount of Stargate considering the David Nykl connection... in fact I made a point of watching a few episodes THE VERY DAY we left for the Okanagan last spring, just so that I wouldn't be totally clueless should it ever come up. Only one of them had Dr. Zelenka in it.
I'm getting WAY off topic here, but there is actually a shot in the existing cut of Beast where David and I are standing on the boat having an argument. It's taken from quite a distance, so the audio is actually lifted from other close up takes. If the audio could have been heard - David and I were actually arguing about Stargate. I should have never opened that can of worms. I made some random comment about Wraiths - one of the few things I had grokked from those two episodes. Within a sentence David was pwning me.

Anyhow - back to the REAL point. Another Firefly fan sent me this. The juice is around the four minute mark.

30 May, 2008

An 'Expert' Invite & the Sighting of the Beast

Well, this is amusing.

I've been invited to speak about the Ogopogo at the Vancouver 'SkeptiCamp' this up-coming month.

It should be fun comparing and contrasting the views of both the credulous and the skeptical with a host of people whose hobby it is to delve for evidence and pick apart irrational belief. I am after all, just an artist who, with some friends, made a movie about the mysterious beast - heck, it can be argued that really I re-made Moby Dick, and the Ogopogo just played the part of the great white whale. But Keith's original idea began with 'Pogo, not Moby - it just morphed towards the literary parallel as we gradually began to see the connections.

But it makes me wonder how/where I stand in the spectrum of Ogopogo experts. I don't know the minutae like Arlene Gaal, but at the same time I'm not the sort to accept flimsy evidence either. I would love to find out that there is something significant in the lake that has yet to be recognised by the biological record, but I find it hard to believe that if such a find is ever made that it will prove to be a 40 foot serpent - but that doesn't make me ideologically or methodologically Joe Nickell, either.

Yet, let's say that a deep dwelling species of fish (possibly evolutionarily stunted, like a sturgeon) that has yet to be discovered lives in the depths of Lake Okanagan. Let's say it surfaces in great numbers to spawn, and THAT is the explanation for the Ogopogo that isn't either boat-wakes, beavers ferrying logs, otters, pranksters or any of the other answers which most readily survive a close shave with Occam's Razor. That would be amazing, and awesome. But I fear that anything less than a pleisosaur or basilosaur will fail to excite the ardent believers.


As to the secondary topic;

When I say 'sighting', I do mean that we have had our viewing of the rough cut of the film. It was great to finally have the chance - almost a year after we finished filming. I have of course seen most of the footage, but some of it is new to me.
I can't actually say a lot without giving things away, but from a film-maker's perspective we learned a lot, both about our craft and about the project itself in watching what currently exists. Naturally there are pick-ups to be done - in a month or so, and it shouldn't take more than a weekend.
We also discovered - or in fact Mike, the editor, voiced a viewpoint of our narrative that we had spoken of previously in different terms. But what Mike said - I'll have to talk about it more specifically at another time - was not at all a surprise, though it does bring a narrative issue into focus in a way which answers the very problems it necessarily presented by it's very nature. (Could I be more indirect?) Significantly, this is exciting as it presents an aspect of our film to us that we had previously not fully grokked. THAT is cool - and the sort of discovery in editing that I have been looking forward to all project long.

24 May, 2008

Something to See

Just got news yesterday that at long last there is a cut of the film ready to be viewed. There have been a number of bumps between production and now which have slowed us down unfortunately, but so it goes. Mike has declared that he is ready for us to see what he has done with the existing scenes (a number of scenes were taken directly to first polish for a number of reasons several months ago) and the remaining until now un-touched footage.

Very exciting from my perspective.

In other news, I did some work this past week on Stargate: Atlantis - the show our own David Nykl plays Dr. Radek Zalenka on. I was actually working with the animatronics team. It was very fun, and I can't really say any more than that without ruining my chances of ever working for them again. (Not to mention I'm actually not familiar with the show, so my info would be sketchy at best if you were seriously interested and water-boarded it out of me.) Oddly while on set this week I crossed paths with every current Stargate cast member I can actually name except one - the one I actually know.

Also - to end on a real high note - one of our other cast members, Gordon May, won the best supporting actor award in the (Damn, I can't find it, but I think this info is right.) North Island Zone, Theatre B.C. Festival. I can't say I am surprised. He is a tremendous actor, and will break people's hearts when they see 'Beast.'

24 April, 2008

New Website!

Seeing as one of the easiest ways to find this blog is to link through our website, this seems a little strange...

But we have a new website.

It's pretty - and way more functional than before.

Like I said in the last post - things are starting to happen!

Check out the new trailer on the website - it's not a final trailer... no sir - it's actually a trailer we threw together last year between our advance shoot and the main portion of production. It recently screened at the Okanagan Film Festival.


What the Boys are Doing....

After literally months of slow progress this past month has suddenly shot to life. All kinds of stuff happening in Provost Pictures world.

Legal stuff, editing stuff and more.

Just last night David Nykl was interviewed on This Conversation. Funny thing, the crew for TC is made predominantly of former members of the 'Beast...' crew. Seems they've formed a solid relationship, those boys. (Many of them already had started down that road before we shot.) As a matter of fact they went up to the Telus Filmmaker's Showdown earlier this month and made it into the top ten with a parody of '24' called '4'. It's fun and I gotta say there are parts that I am really impressed by - so glad we had these guys on-side.

11 February, 2008

Bye Bye Brodie

Kennedy Goodkey - Writer Dude

Roy Scheider died today.

Makes me wistful.

Jaws was one of Keith's favourite films. It's one of mine.

"Beast..." owes Jaws a huge debt.

Once, years ago, Mr. Scheider was in town shooting some movie... (I've forgotten what, but for som reason I also think that I did make a point of seeing it.) ...Keith and I discussed trying to find him and see if we couldn't get him to do an interview on camera that we might find a use for. This eventually led to what is now the 'expert interviews' in the film.

Anyhow, it's been a long time since a post. I felt like this event was worth acknowledging.

- K