09 August 2009


Last weekend, we received the theme for this year's Project Twenty1 competition: "Key." Somehow, someway, all submitted films must incorporate this theme, whether a character is named Key, whether a person must unlock the heart of his lover, or whether a fat guy eats a bunch of key lime pie. In that time, I managed to write a script, have it thoroughly critiqued by my fellow team members, rewrite it twice, then have it even further examined and poked. Today (technically yesterday now), we shot the grand bulk of the script.

Fuck, I'm tired.

Shortly before the competition began, Project Twenty1's organizers sent out an e-mail full of helpful hints for surviving 'til the end. One of those was to avoid being too ambitious. We knew that lesson already, absorbed it yet again, and continued to write a script that included seventeen scenes at seven different locations. These were basic locations, granted, and we would probably have no trouble securing them. On the other hand...fucking hell, seventeen scenes? Through the magic of movies, we were able to condense some of those locations, until our "official" shooting schedule took us to four separate spots. Two of those spots we will film tomorrow. Two are in the can...

The bulk of the script takes place at one location, and most scenes are confined to one or two shots. That made the early part of the day go quickly. My teammate/roommate, Chris Kapcia, and I bought a brand spankin' new camera, not just for this project, of course, but for all future projects until we eventually upgrade. Nevertheless, we remain largely ignorant of the finer points of cinematography, and don't have much equipment in that area anyway, so we don't spend a lot of time perfecting a shot until it is precisely just so. Normally it's a peek into the viewfinder, then "Looks good to me. Let's roll it." The benefit is that we take much less time to shoot a film than is normal.

We started off well today. Around 9:30, we were on the Pulaski Bridge straddling Brooklyn and Queens and shooting. We got what we needed within forty minutes or so and skedaddled. From there, we went home, ate a fast lunch, and went to the apartment of one of our actors, who had kindly donated her time and her home to our project. We were there for the rest of the day, which ended around 11:30 pm. In the beginning, things went quickly and well, and we were ahead of time. We got behind, however, because I colossally fucked up.

Our new camera came with a new microphone, you see, and this microphone has to be set to "on" independently of the camera. It also runs on its own batteries, so one's natural instinct is to preserve the battery's life by turning the microphone off as often as possible. The problem comes in when one forgets to turn the microphone back on. As a result of my fuckup, we've decided to just leave the microphone on forever, and replace the battery as necessary. It's much easier than having to do reshoots.

Luckily, only one scene had to be reshot. Looking over today's footage, the reshoot is actually better than the original. That does not make me feel any better. I know I will have continuous nightmares about microphones being off when they were specifically turned on mere moments ago, and reels upon reels of golden footage will be rendered useless and lost to time. I will wake up in a cold sweat...if I'm lucky...

In spite of the punishing schedule, and my hapless ass, we managed to pull through because we had an incredibly talented and dedicated cast. These people were amazing in every way. If the film is one iota as good as the fever dreams of my imagination, it will be solely because of their insight, feedback, skills, general awesomeness, etc. etc. We got everything we need today, and now my back, legs, and arms are dully throbbing with achiness and pain, but all I feel is sweet satisfaction.

Watching the footage we shot today, I grew excited over the finished product. "Holy shit," I said to Chris, "we may actually pull this off." Tomorrow is yet another day, but one I look forward to. If we can sustain our momentum and continue to collaborate with such generous and passionate artists...Well, I don't want to speculate, because I fear it will produce bad luck. But so far, we've had a streak of good fortune. Here's hoping it continues at least for a little bit.


  1. Like always, I'm looking forward to this one. But why is this titled "Tumbler"?

  2. It's one of the titles we bandied about for the film. It also described my sensation of tumbling through the shoot.

  3. Go! Go! Team Hardboiled! Go!