25 August 2010

Project Twenty1: "Patient Zero"

I am proud to announce that Hard Boiled Productions' official entry into this year's Project Twenty1 Festival is complete. We have submitted it and received word from the Project's organizers that the film is safely in their hands and will be playing on the big screen down in beautiful Philadelphia the weekend of October 1st through 3rd. What's the name of our flick?


How much can I tell you about the film? Not much at this point. We want people to be surprised when they see it, after all, and it's less than nine minutes long, so information comes at a premium. Nevertheless, I can share certain information as conveyed through ACTUAL SCREEN SHOTS FROM THE FINISHED FILM! HOW ARE YOUR PANTS STILL DRY?!

Our main character is this lad, Sean.

As portrayed by Chris "Lil' Don Draper" Kapcia

Sean is very sick. He's stuck in his apartment, where a mysterious trio are tending to him as his condition worsens. This trio is:

Dr. Crosby, as portrayed by Jennifer Fouche

Dr. Oxford, as portrayed by Aundra Goodrum II

Leonard, as portrayed by Jeremy Goren

(Yes, all of the characters' names were chosen for a reason, but you will never guess that reason, and I will never tell you...Okay, I might tell you, but not now. Later. If it comes up and I remember.) WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE AND WHAT DO THEY WANT? Whatever their intentions, they are stopping Sean from seeing the one person he desperately needs to talk to, his girlfriend Megan.

You can see higher quality versions at our Facebook page, where we will eventually post more photos, including images of our high-larious behind-the-scenes hijinks. Also a trailer, but only if you behave.

For me, editing the film was relatively easy. I got to sit there and make jokes while Chris did all of the actual work. Sometimes I would say, "Let's put this shot here," or "Let's use this voiceover clip," and then I would leave the room for the half hour it would take him to actually do that and not make it look and sound like scratchy balls. He did a fantastic job with the sound design; it's one of those instances where you won't notice it because it's so good, stealthily sneaking into your ears and getting all up inside your brain.

Our job was made much easier, naturally, by the fantastic performances, and my hat goes off to all of our wonderful actors. They were fun to work with, tolerant of our artistic pretensions, and genuinely insightful towards the characters. When a script is only nine pages long, there's not much room for fully fleshing out three-dimensional people; you rely on your actors, and they delivered in a big way. Watching the footage, Chris and I would crack up in delight when we saw a small gesture, a carefully shaded look, a perfectly timed movement, and we would say, "Awesome! That's going in!"

The film's tone is pretty dour and serious, but if you watch us while it plays, you won't know that. We'll be smiling and nudging each other, whispering our in-jokes and pointing out our favorite moments. Hopefully, though, you'll be too engrossed with the drama to notice the two jackasses in the back of the room.

What's next for us? We'll be promoting the hell out of the film, putting the final touches on Time In and beginning the edit on One Night Strange, and submitting some more of our stuff to festivals across the U.S. of A. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be trash talking some of our Project Twenty1 competitors in this space to drum up controversy and attention.

10 August 2010

Project Twenty1: Taming the Beast

Barring any unforeseen complications or utter disasters (knock on wood!), our shooting for Project Twenty1 is now complete. Last year we had a gargantuan schedule packed into two days of improvising endless scenes from angles ad nauseum. (Here's the result. LOVE IT!) This year, we managed to be a bit easier on ourselves: one long ass day in a single location to capture three short scenes and a few insert shots, one short ass day at a local park blessed with beautiful weather. I even had time to finish the rest of "Deadwood." Reviewing the footage, we believe that yes, Virginia, it will all cut together into a short film we can be proud to call our own.

"Lens cap?"

What's it about? I'm not telling you yet. Here's a clue that isn't helpful in the slightest, but it is a great song, so you should download it and put it on your newfangled music playing device. Frankly, I don't even feel comfortable telling you the title at this point. Mostly because we haven't settled on one. We have a working title that may change if we can think of something better. Titles have never been my strong suit. Anytime I bump into a word or phrase that is the right combination of catchy and apt that also hasn't been used before, I fall to my knees and give thanks to the al-ighty gods of art who cast their blessings and curses down upon our heads. But only because I don't have a full length mirror to chest bump myself.

"What do you mean I can't spike it like a football?!"

In due time, we'll be sharing photos and providing a bit more information. For now, we hold our cards close to our vest. I find it's best not to overshare until something concrete is ready to be unleashed upon the world. Though filming is done, we still have to edit approximately two and a half hours worth of footage into something like a ten minutes or less narrative movie. I'm feeling confident and hopeful now, but that's only because we haven't started yet. Once we get balls deep into editing, you will find me a more harried man. 'Tis a mighty beast that must be tamed before we can reap what glory may perchance come our way. We shall begin upon the morrow!

Hide your womenfolk: Hard Boiled Productions is in town.

06 August 2010

Project Twenty1: Preparing for Battle

Tonight I shaved my head. That, in and of itself, is nothing special; but when I do it before a film shoot, it takes on a more mystical air. I am no longer a balding man trying to hide the obvious; instead, I am a warrior preparing for battle, like Kambei at the beginning of Seven Samurai, becoming more streamlined and ready for the filmmaking struggle to come.

Yes, this weekend we will be shooting our brand spankin' new script for Project Twenty1. This year's theme: "Between the Lines." After receiving it, my collaborators and I withdrew into our heads, imagining various stories, images, characters that might, in some way, if you squint and turn your head, fit that theme. We talked, pitched ideas, talked some more, debated, agreed, disagreed, went back to the drawing board. On Monday I wrote two ten-page scripts, one a drama and one a comedy. Both were rejected for being too talky and intricate. On Tuesday I was struck with inspiration while on the train. Something like an original idea broke out in my head and rushed to escape. That night, I translated it into a nine-page script. The transmission was garbled, however, and on Wednesday I listened to comments and insight, then broke out my trusty red pen and went to town. I rewrote it that night into a version that just might be ready for shooting. Close enough, at least.

And so we're moving forward. On Saturday, Hard Boiled Productions and our cast and crew will convene to begin shooting the motherfucker. We'll go all morning and afternoon, then break until Sunday, when a much smaller group will be meeting for further shoots. And then we'll be done with filming and move into post-production. If all goes well, that is. (I just knocked on wood - I don't consider myself superstitious, but goddammit, I just have to do it sometimes.)

Today, tomorrow, we prepare. On my lunch break I went to CVS to search for props: surgical masks, latex gloves, insulin syringes that I hope will pass for their bigger, more hardy cousins. (They were surprisingly cheap at $3.00 for a ten pack.) E-mails were blasted back and forth discussing characters, moments, wardrobes, music. A select few - seven, in fact - agreed to take on this challenge and meet it with the best they have to offer.

It's stressful, nerve racking, difficult, exciting. I love it. But a part of my brain frets about everyday life. Deep down is a voice that keeps saying, "You only have five more hours of 'Deadwood' to watch! Then you'll be done with the entire series! Can't you take a break?" No. At least, not yet. Maybe tomorrow I'll find time, or the night after that. But "Deadwood," as excellent as the cocksucking hoopleheaded fuck is, will have to wait.

The only bit of ease I really had today was grabbing a drink with one of our actors. We went to the rooftop bar at the La Quinta Inn on 32nd Street, which sits in the direct shadow of the Empire State Building. It was populated by tourists and the young New York middle class, those who have one to three roommates, enjoy cable, hold down Midtown white collar cubicles, and are too plain and/or broke to get into the pricier places around the city. It was a grand ol' time. But in the back of my mind, competing with my "Deadwood" voice, was another one: "You really should get home. You still need to go over your props and make further plans. And, of course, shave your head, you ugly motherfucker."

That's the voice I try to heed more than the others. There are many competing for my attention, but that one tends to cut through the noise. I guess I could call it my Al Swearengen: "Pain or damage don’t end the world, or despair or fucking beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man — and give some back."

To be continued...for better or worse...