48 Hour Film Project - 2013: An editors perspective
Every year, I usually blog about my experience competing in the 48 hour film project.  Usually this includes a literal mad dash to the finish line.  Thankfully, that was not the case this time.

This was my 5th year competing in the 48.  I had sat out last year because most of my usual team was in pre-production for December 1982.  But, I almost didn't compete again this year.  After we wrapped production for Turn Right on Madness, I sent out a message to my crew to see if they would be interested in forming a team.  Unfortunately, most of them were either already committed to other teams, busy with other films, or moving to far off lands.  Team Buffalo Rex was not going to happen.

Then a couple of weeks before the event, I was contacted by Johnnie Brannon.  Team Flokati needed an editor.  If it had been anyone else, I would've said no.  I still had lots of VFX to finish for Madness and I was moving the next weekend, so I really needed to pack.  (Johnnie did offer to help me pack, although I didn't take him up on that offer).  I asked him to give me a night to think about it, but I had already made up my mind.  I was in.  I also threw Eric's name in the hat (hat in the ring? I'm terrible with idioms).  If we needed a sound designer, he's among the best.

Team Flokati

The team met a few days before to strategize.  This mostly entailed going through the list of genres and deciding which ones we didn't want to draw and throwing out a couple ideas for each genre. (Be glad we didn't draw fantasy...)  We joked that no matter what we drew, we should just throw it back and take the wildcard, because most of the wild card genres were awesome (B-movie, Mystery, Spy).  Of course, then we would run the risk of getting stuck with Operetta. You know, the dreaded genre that no team wanted.  At least with Musical/Western, you 1) get a choice 2) don't have to sing EVERY line of dialogue. (To be honest, we didn't want that one either).  Our producer Tony Taylor kept saying that it would be great if we got Operetta.  We did not agree with him.

Friday night rolls around and for once, I actually got to relax.  Not producing tends to free up some of your time.  Still, I anxiously awaited our fate.  At 7:05, we received the text.


That's all it said.

I'm fairly sure that there were plenty of colorful words exchanged in those first few moments. How were we going to pull this off?  How hard is it going to be to edit a film where all of the dialogue is sung?  Why is team Bearshark laughing at us? Soon everyone settled in and accepted our mission.  We could've just taken it as the kiss of death and given up then, but we didn't.  At least it's going to be fun, right?

I wasn't helping write this year, but curiosity got the best of me.  Grant and I headed up to Little Rock to see how everything was going.  We arrived about 10:30 and the fantastic writing team already had most of the story fleshed out.  Sandy sang a hilarious song about dip (that ultimately ended up on the cutting room floor) and I knew the film was going to be funny.  We all sat around joking about throwing back romance only to make a romantic operetta.

I can't comment much on production.  My main stipulation for editing during the 48 is that I get to sleep while they shoot.  I showed up about 7 pm on Saturday night.  They had just wrapped shooting and were recording wild lines.  We dumped sound and footage onto our DP Will's laptop (seeing as mine is a little less than reliable these days) and began transcoding to ProRes. 

Well, it wouldn't be the 48 without a problem or two.  I found out that while filming they had hit pause on the audio recorder instead of stop after almost every take.  This generated three long audio clips instead of individual ones for each take.  Luckily, this was something that had also happened on the first day of shooting John Wayne's Bed, so I knew exactly how to approach the situation.  It wasn't impossible, it would just slow me down a little.  I finally started syncing sound around 11 pm and finished it just after midnight.  The crew had mostly dispersed, but Tony sat up with me just in case I had any questions. 

I was nervous at first.  How exactly does one cut an operetta?  When you edit a film, there are (hopefully) multiple shots and angles to choose from.  Most times, actors will deliver their lines a little differently every take.  It's usually not noticeable until you really start digging into the scene.  The cadence on each delivery will have a slight variation.  This usually isn't a big deal unless you have to ADR anything.  The trick is to make the cuts appear seamless so that you don't notice an inconstancy in the lines when you switch back and forth between shots.  Because all of our dialogue was sung and because all of our actors nailed their performances, the delivery was the same from take to take.  This made editing go by way more smoothly.  I could use the dialogue track from a single take, while using video from several different takes.  I bet you didn't notice that.

I decided to just have fun with the cut.  I had watched a couple episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia the night before.  That kind of inspired the style of the opening sequence.  I could've cut it more straight and cutesty.  But there were a couple weird moments that I thought were hilarious.  So, I really wanted to play off of those.  My goal was to make it as weird and uncomfortable for Andy (Jay Clark) as possible and then cut to the title card.  There was this one moment with a three shot of Debi (Karen Q. Clark) and two others staring at Andy after they greet him.  Karen makes this great awkward face/sound combo.  She only did it in one take and I thought it was hilarious.  Thankfully, the audience did too.

Jason Willey, Sandy Q. Clark, and Drew Ellis

There was another moment when (SPOILER) Debi is considering Blade Diamond's (Sam Clark).  Karen sings out this long note while she looks at Sam and looks away.  I wanted to use Sam's reaction shots in there somewhere.  But where.  I decided that every time Karen looked away that we should see Sam waiting.  I went through Sam's reactions (that were all in one take, because he's awesome and totally nailed his performance) and choose the ones that I thought that he looked the most eager and nervous.  But, there was also this one great moment that he accidentally licked his lips.  Wouldn't it be hilarious if that's what finally sealed the deal between Debi and Blade Diamond.  I drug it into the timeline and informed Sam that he was going to get all the ladies.  That sequence is probably my favorite part of the film.  It was great to see the audience respond well to it.

Sam Clark as Blade Diamond

Generally, my goal is to have a cut finished about 7 am. That way, I can have another set of eyes review it, make the necessary changes, and leave enough time for the sound designer to work.  I had a rough cut assembled around 5 am.  I showed it to our producer Tony.  He loved it, but I wasn't happy with the pacing.  A few moments just didn't work and I had been looking at it so long that I didn't know how I would fix them.  At first, my plan was to wait until Eric got there and ask his opinion.  We've worked on countless films together and he probably knows my editing style better than I do.  Plus, I can count on him to tell me exactly what the problems are and not tiptoe around them.  But, after watching it a couple times with Tony and Johnnie, I was able to see what was wrong with the pacing and fix it rather quickly.

There are still two cuts that I'm not entirely happy with.  One is the result of cutting part of a scene after an awkward joke that didn't really land.  Another a reaction shot that needed to be a couple frames longer.  Wait, I just thought of another.  I tell myself that these are the reasons that I didn't get an editing nom this year.  You know, whatever will help me sleep at night.

After we had a picture lock, it was time to get ready to send to Eric and Sam for sound and music.  I layed down on the couch, but with everybody starting to show back up, it didn't look like I would have a chance to take a nap. Instead, I started getting everything ready for after sound was finished.  I created a separate timeline with the 48 requirements- black slugs, team title card, 48 intro, and the nested cut for our film.  That way we could just drop the sound on the correct timeline and be ready to go when everything was finished.

I know this has been brought up a couple times in various Q&A sessions, but it's worth noting again because it shows the sheer talent of the cast and crew: all of the singing was recorded on set unaccompanied.  They had no melodies or anything to go off of.  It hadn't been written yet.  So when I turned the cut over to Sam, he wrote music to match all of the singing.  He also created a different style for each character.

While Same and Eric were working, we decided that it was time to name our operetta-- you know, since "THE Operetta" would probably be an obnoxious title.  We started throwing out suggestions.  They told me that we couldn't call it "Beaus and Hoes", but we did have a good laugh over that one.  We started wiki-ing titles to operas.  When we noticed that a majority of them had French titles, we decided to go with that.  So we eventually settled on "La Grande Fête", which is French for "the big party."

The final sound mix, music included, was finished around the 3 o'clock hour.  We were getting ready to export when Tony pointed out we needed to include the 48 requirements.  I told him it was already taken care of.  Everything had gone super smoothly before now, so it was about time for problems to arise.  For the Little Rock 48, we're asked to turn in a H2.64 file.  I made sure that all the settings were correct because FCP7 likes to try to export HD as 1440x1080 for some reason.  When the export was complete, our file was only about 400 mbs.  That couldn't be right.  We reviewed the footage and most of our color information was gone.  The picture was super desaturated.  We tried exporting again via Quicktime conversation.  Still, no luck.  We had luckily finished everything early, but losing 15-20 minutes per export was starting to slow us down.  Will suggested that we try exporting a ProRes file and coverting it to H2.64 with MPEG Streamclip.  That worked.  We ended up turning in both the ProRes and H2.64 files.  Ya know, just in case.

So, there it was.  It was finished.  I think we watched it at least 5 times before we went to turn it in.  We also sat down and had a spaghetti dinner that was prepared by our Craft Services expert Krystal Berry.  It was now about 5:30.  Still plenty of time.  We had created this film as a team, so we decided to turn it in as a team.  And that was that. There was no exporting en route to the finish line.  No jumping out of cars at red lights to try to make it on time.  That was a refreshing change of pace.

We left exhausted and triumphant.  We had made a film.  In less than 48 hours.  We were all exhausted.  So, what now?  Why not just make another movie?

Seeing that we had probably the toughest genre in play this year, we knew that a lot of eyes were on our team.  Could we pull it off?  We now knew the answer to that question, but others were still inquiring.  We decided to have a little fun with it.  Will and Jason had the idea to created a fake film.  So we planned it out.  Start on a tight shot and then pull back.  Make it look like it's going to be a real film.  Include the team title card and 48 animation.  Add a black slug at the end of the video, so it looks long enough to be a film.  Krystal would the "accidentally" post it on the film's facebook page instead of our private group.  And that's how we Rick Rolled the 48.

The following week, we were all anxious.  We liked our film, but we wanted to know what everyone else thought about it.  Our screening night finally rolled around.  The audience really seemed to respond to it.  We got laughs in places we hadn't even considered as funny.  It was a tough night though.  We screened with a lot of great films.  A lot of people had great things to say about our film which always feels good. 

The audience chose us as one of their favorite films, so we were set to screen again at the Best of 48 Screening.  We were also up for 4 awards: Best use of Prop, Best Actress (Karen Q. Clark), Best Score, and Best Film.

Random obligatory photo with the cute boyfriend

It was an intense night.  Tony and I tried predicting the outcome of the night.  We played somewhere in the middle.  Is that a bad sign?  The order was random... or was it?  We really thought Surprise Party was going to win.  I mean, we were up against 3 other great films.   But we thought that Surprise Party was going to win.  And that would've been alright by us.

When Surprise Party won Best Director, I leaned over and mentioned to Tony that in the past several years they hadn't given Best Director and Best Picture to the same team.  A lot of times festivals like to split their top awards.  That may or not have been the case here.  It's all just purely speculation.  And just because it's been that way in past years, doesn't mean that it would happen that way this year.  Also, there was the fact that Johnnie hadn't received a directing nomination.  Could we pull an Argo?

Then there it was.  Time for the final award of the night.  They announced the runner up first.  Surprise Party.  I looked over at Tony.  There wasn't much time to think.  Could it be us? Or what about Team Bearshark-- they had received the most nominations.  Or MetaFloor?

Right before they showed the clip.  Right before they announced our fate, I whispered to Tony.  "Did we just win this?"  And then it happened.  With more hugging, crying, and cheering than the Little Rock 48 Hour Film Project has ever seen, we celebrated our win.

We're going to Filmapoloza.  See you in New Orleans.

Team Flokati FT(literal)W

I have a love/hate relationship with location scouting for films.  I enjoy driving around finding interesting places to shoot, but it can be really frustrating when you can't find the perfect place.

I had already written a script that should've been considered unshootable on our budget (which was pretty much based on how much change I could find in my couch).  Why would I possibly make the locations easy?  For Madness we needed:
  • A house in a subdivision.
  • A gas station with old style pumps.  Sketchy looking.  We also needed to be able to see the pump through a window from the register.
  • Woods.
  • A cabin in/near the woods. Preferably near:
  • A cliff.
The house was the easy part.  We just shot in front of our producer Jen's house.

Although, I was initially most worried about the gas station, it wasn't too difficult to find one and lock the location.  As I was unemployed at the time, I spent my days driving around and photographing potential stations.  Eric was able to get in touch with the folks at Country Junction Outfitters in Higden, near Greer's Ferry, and they were happy to let us film there.

Ideally, we hoped for something a little closer, but you kind of have to keep your locations as close together as possible if you're planning on doing any sort of company move during the day.  We ultimately chose the Greer's Ferry area because we had access to a location with woods and cliffs.  Avery Moorehead's parents had graciously allowed us to shoot on their property.  (We had also shot scenes for Tomahawk there).

We had all of the locations needed for the first weekend, but still lacked a key location needed for the second.  So, we starting shooting with no idea what we would be doing the next weekend.  Which is not a good thing.  Let me emphasize this:  know where all of your locations will be before you begin production.  You should only ignore this advice if you want to cause lots of stress for yourself and your producers.

With the first weekend in the can, it was time to take a realistic look at the remainder of the film.  Eric tolk me it was time to consider a rewrite.  Those are the words that you never want to hear from your producer.

If you know me, you probably are aware of how stubborn I can be.  I could not rewrite this scene.  It was too important.  I hadn't given up hope yet.  This is Arkansas.  I knew there had to be a cabin(/shack/shed?) in the woods somewhere.  The problem is, if you don't want a road to be seen in your location, you're not going to find your location from the road.  I know these locations exist out there somewhere, but for some reason other filmmakers keep burning them down.

We looked at rental cabins, but couldn't find any that weren't too large, too far away, or in a cluster of other cabins.  We exhausted all of our resources.  (I feel like somewhere, there might be someone reading this that knows of a location.  Yeah, I hate you right now).  We did almost have a lead at one point, but that fell through as soon as they discovered we were shooting a horror movie.

Exhausted and out of options, I tried every Google search term I could imagine.  Then, in the deep depths of the internet, I found this:

It's like it was made just for this film. But there would be no way to contact the owner, right?  The photo description said that it was his buddy's cabin and linked to the owner's Flickr account.  I clicked on the info.  Hometown: Cabot.  That's where I grew up.  Maybe there was hope after all?  Occupation: High School Band Director.  Wait.  I looked at the name again.  How did I not notice that before?  Here is the ideal location in the same town as we are shooting and the owner is one of my high school band directors.

I looked up his email on the school district's website.  He was willing to let us film there and sent me the location and directions.  Finally karma was working in my favor.  I plugged in the coordinates to Google maps.  The good news is that it was only 13 miles away.  The bad, it was a 40 minute drive.  How does that even happen?
Oh, like this... Thanks a lot Edgemont.
I met with Eric and Jarrod to talk about the logistics and schedule for the shoot.  Jarrod pitched that idea of shooting the rest of the film in one day instead of town, so we wouldn't have to make the drive to Edgemont more than once.  After an hour of going in circles, staring at each other, and me being really stubborn, we finally agreed that wasn't an option.  Yes, we only had about 6 pages left to shoot, but we also had a lot of makeup effects that would need to be done.  I didn't want to rush that.  And, we were losing one of the actors at two on Saturday.  He suggested we just schedule it all on Sunday.  There was already the possibility of rain that day though and I wanted to at least get something shot that weekend.

After agreeing to stick to the original shooting schedule, it was time to address the travel time between our locations.  It was already an hour and a half drive to our Saturday location/Sunday's first location.  Sunday, we would shoot a few scenes and need to travel another 40 minutes to the second location.  Then turn around and finish up back at the first location.  (We were mainly shooting in order due to continuity/progression of makeup, wounds, and costume rips).  It could be done, but it was going to leave us with an intense last day of shooting.

When you only have a limited amount of daylight, you definitely don't want to spend half of your day on the road.  Jarrod proposed an idea we probably should've thought of before.  Saturday's shoot only took place in the woods, but couldn't that be ANY woods?  The answer was yes.  As long as it was the same kind of trees, it shouldn't really be noticeable.  Jarrod suggested we just stay in Conway.  We started throwing out ideas for possible locations.  The next day, Eric called to get consent to shoot on the UCA nature trail.

It was time to address the Sunday issue again.  If we could find a nearby location, we could have a later crew call and also shoot longer.  I was willing to abandon an awesome location in favor of an extra hour of sleep.  We tried every resource we had.  Called the mayor.  No one had any leads.  And, we only had a couple of days left to figure this out.

The next day, I drove to my parents' to pick up some props for the shoot.  By this point, we had a lead on the slim possibility of an exterior, but wouldn't be able to shoot inside.  I went and looked at my dad's old shop as a possible interior.  I hadn't been in there in years.  It was going to look great on film.

Screenshot from the Turn Right on Madness.
I drove back to Conway in time to meet with Eric and Jarrod again.  I showed them pictures from inside the shop and they agreed that it was perfect.  However, our exterior didn't pan out.  I proposed the idea of just using the exterior of the shop as well.  It wasn't what the script called for by any means.  It's a sheet metal shed.  But it was a guaranteed location and we were running out of time.

Sunday's shoot was rained out.  But that was actually for the best.  We had continued to look for a cliff within a reasonable distance to our location.  We found none.  I was going to have to rewrite the ending.  I was okay with this.  At the end, a character was supposed to fall off of a cliff.  I actually kind of hated the idea.  I was, however, not looking forward to breaking the news to Tony and Stacy.  They had worked so hard to build a life size dummy body to toss off of the edge.  (Luckily, Stacy and I found a way to still use the body in the film).

After many scheduling conflicts and getting rained out a second time, we finally got to shoot the ending for the movie.  In effort to save time we opted not to drive an additional twenty minutes out to shoot in the woods someplace.  We only had half a scene left in the woods, so we were just going to cheat the shots and shoot them in the trees behind my dad's shop.  Unfortunately, we would soon discover that my dad had recently cleared most of the trees out.

Not a problem, I said.  Across the street from my parents' there's a wooded area.  The neighbors there have always been super chill and friendly.  My brother and I had been over there quite a few times.  So, Eric, Matt, and I went to scout the area.  It's just the woods.  It's not like we were accidentally shooting on someone's front porch, so it shouldn't be a problem. (That may have kinda happened once before...)

The briars and limbs were pretty dense there, but we found a place were we could shoot.  It was time to get the actors out there.  As we are headed back, I hear:

"Excuse me.  Can I help you?"

By now, Eric and Matt are over the fence.  As I was trying to get untangled from the briars I hear Eric  talking to a lady.  He politely inquires if she owns the land, explains that we are making a short film, and asks if we can shoot there.  I got over the fence and asked what she said.  Turns out, as soon as she heard we were shooting a horror film, she said no.

Why wouldn't you want a horror film shot on your property?

I went inside to talk to my mom and to inquire about who owns the property.  (I would also like to point out that technically we own about 4 feet on that side of the road.  It's just none of our property over there was shootable seeing as it was mostly a ditch, briars, and a fence). I am then informed that the neighbors across the street, the neighbors that I wasn't concerned about because my dad was friends with, had moved.  The folks beside them bought the half of the property that contained the woods when it had went up for sale.  Those people, as my mom informed me, weren't really nice.  We had noticed.  My mom suggested we go to the end of the road and talk to the lady that lived there.

So, I grabbed Matt and Eric and we walked down down our little dead-end street.  I could tell that the place that we went to look at wasn't going to work.  The trees were too different than the previous locations we had shot at.  However, across the street was land that had been for sale for almost a decade.  No one was ever out there.  And it would match everything we shot before.

In the rare instance that potential festivals, lawyer types, or former film professors may be reading this, I would like to say that this is where we obtained proper permission to shoot on this property.  Yeah, totally would never go shoot anything guerrilla style...

Trespassing? Not us!

We made sure to limit all the screaming, blood effects, and running with chainsaws to my parents' land. So now the new non-cliff ending was finished.  And it was awesome.  Grant has footage of me rolling on the ground laughing because I thought a particular take was awesome.  Obviously, I have issues.

We are still working on on post, but hopefully we will have Madness out soon.

Into the Madness
I am absolutely terrible with keeping up with this blog.  A few people have inquired about the status of my latest endeavor, so I suppose that warrants an update.

When I last left you guys, we had shot all but about 3 pages of Turn Right on Madness before our final day of shooting was rained out.  The following week was spring break (not for me-- although, I was still on my life hiatus known as unemployment...) and the majority of my crew was headed to the beach.  I sat down with Eric and Jarrod to plan our next move before they left.

We decided to schedule the shoot on the day after they returned, a Friday.  This allowed me to have my cast and the majority of my crew.  However, it turns out, my special effects make-up artist would not be able to be there that day.  I scrambled to find someone else, but no one that I've worked with before still lives in the area.  I told myself that everything would be fine.  I could just make a giant batch of fake blood and everything would work out.

The day to shoot grew closer.  I checked the weather forecast and, as luck would have it, it was calling for a torrential downpour.  Of course.  This, however, turned out to be a good thing.  There was no way that I could've finished the film without Stacy there doing make-up.  This also gave me time to cut together everything and to rewrite the ending. (This was necessary due to location changes... but that's a story for a future post).

Stacy working her magic.
My weekends started to become consumed by festivals screening John Wayne's Bed.  Luckily, our screening for Ozark Foothills fell on a Sunday, so we used the Saturday before to finish up Madness.  So about three weeks after we were supposed to wrap, we set out to finally shoot the ending.

Our biggest setback going into the day was that Jarrod (who is a fantastic 1st AD btw) couldn't be there.  Luckily Eric and Paige stepped in for him.  (Yes, Jarrod is so awesome that it takes two people to take his place).  This also became the only day that we didn't wrap early... or on time.  You'll soon see that this was in no way that fault of my interim ADs.

Despite a setback in regard to our location, filming was going really well.  Johnnie and Geneva are wonderful and we rarely had to do more than two takes.  (I generally like to get a second safety take even if the performances are solid on the first).

We were preparing to shoot a scene where (SPOILER) Johnnie comes bursting in with a chainsaw.  What could go wrong, right?  We were shooting on my parents' property inside my dad's shop-- which is primarily constructed out of sheet metal.  On the side is a large door, also made out of sheet metal, which is primarily used as a tractor entrance/exit.  We had it open to take advantage of the natural light.

I stepped outside to start the chainsaw for the scene.  So, I had just gotten the chainsaw started when the metal door slams into me.  And by me, I mean my foot.  And by slams I mean slices.  The door hit me so hard, that I thought that someone had pushed it open, but really the wind had managed to catch it just right.  So, there I am with this gapping foot wound, but it didn't hurt, so I decided I was fine.

After all, the show must go on.

I restarted the chainsaw, handed it to Johnnie, and went inside.  Time to shoot the scene.  After one take, I realized that the possibility of my foot bleeding all over the floor is very high.  I gave the actors their notes, told someone to call action, and stepped outside.  The actors knew what they needed to do.  Once outside, I sent Grant to tell my mom what had happened.  And we finished the scene.  By now, my foot would is bleeding pretty good.  I gave Matt instructions to shoot some b-roll and hobbled down the path to my parents' house.

When Grant informed my mom that I cut my foot open, she remarked that she wasn't surprised.  They rounded up some first aid supplies and my set photographer/medic/boyfriend extraordinaire started to patch me back up.  They kept asking if I needed to go to the hospital.  I couldn't go to the hospital.  We were shooting a movie.  Ain't nobody got time for that!  (See also: I didn't have health insurance. And I hate hospitals).  My mom refused to look at my foot to assess the damage.  She called my dad to come check it out.  His verdict: yep, looks like I cut it open.  (Also, this story doubles as the first time that my boyfriend ever met my dad...)

That's not blood running down my foot,
that's how far down it was sliced.
Grant bandaged up my foot and carried me back to set.  He also brought me a chair so I wouldn't have to stand on one foot.  A few (fake) blood and chainsaw filled hours later, we wrapped.

And to answer everyone's question at the time: 4th grade.  I was about 98% sure that my last tetanus shot was in 4th grade.  Somehow, Fiber-- my friend in med school/psuedo-doctor-- convinced me that I needed to go get a DTaP.  Turns out walgreens will give you one no questions asked.

But, all of my rambling here fails to answer the original question of what is going on with the film.  We've been holding for pickup shots for a while because our DP has been busy with other projects-- like shooting The End and getting married.

Pickup shots are currently scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.  I hope to have a picture lock by this weekend.  Then off to vfx/sound/music/color.  Which reminds me, I need to find a musician to score the film.

Madness will be done soon guys.  I promise.  I didn't send this film to space to never return.

#Madness: an update
Every time something goes wrong on a film, my mind immediately wants to blow it up to Lost in La Mancha sized proportions.  We've had a few hiccups filming Turn Right on Madness, but we didn't actually have any real setbacks until yesterday.

When we wrapped Saturday, a few of us sat down to go over Sunday's schedule.  We knew that weather would be a problem.  There was a giant mass on the radar moving towards us.  There was no denying that.  We pushed the call time up and set a plan in place.  I would let everyone know by 8 am if we could film or not.

I woke up and checked the weather.  The storm still had not arrived, but it was supposed to get here at about the time that we wanted to start shooting. (And it did).   They were predicting rain til about 6 pm.  That just was not going to work for us.  I hated to do it, but I had to call off the shoot.  I'm sure everyone appreciated the extra sleep though.

And of course the slow moving storm system seemed to speed up when it got here.  It rained for a couple hours and then by lunchtime, the sun was shining again.  I was not a happy director.  But the truth is, I couldn't keep my whole cast and crew on standby all day.  Well, I could have, but when you're only paying people in food, it's not the best idea.  Besides that, it would have been super muddy and we were supposed to be shooting in the woods.  The ominous storm clouds that lingered after the rain stopped would've looked awesome in a horror film, but the truth is that they would not have matched anything we shot before.  It was for the best.

We have less than 3 pages to go, but coordinating everyone's schedules for another half day of shooting is proving to be difficult.  We will get this film finished.  We have been scheduling everything so tightly in hopes of finishing in time for the last Little Rock Film Festival deadline.  Now, I'm not sure that's going to happen.  But there will be other festivals and I'd rather have a solid film than something that we rushed on a whim.

Other than that, the film has been going great.  I can't stop bragging on my cast and crew.  Everyone is doing a fantastic job.  The footage looks awesome.  I can't wait to share this film with all of you.

Oscar Predictions
The Oscars are always a fun time for my friends and I.  Not only do we get to watch a lot of great movies (still bummed that I didn't get a chance to see Amour, but I did catch all the other Best Picture noms), but we also get to see who is best at predicting the awards.

Previously, I blogged Eric's and my predictions for the nominees.  He beat me by 1.  I'm pretty sure that his Oscar ballot beats mine every year-- and that includes the year that we tied and he won the tie breaker.

But without further ado (because the Oscars start in any moment), here are our last minute predictions:

Best Picture:
Argo - Both

Best Director:
Steven Spielberg - Sarah
Ang Lee - Eric

Best Actor: 
Daniel Day-Lewis- Both

Best Actress:
Jennifer Lawerence - Both

Best Supporting Actor:
Robert De Niro - Sarah
Tommy Lee Jones - Eric

Best Supporting Actress:
Anne Hathaway - Both

Best Animated Feature:
Wreck It Ralph - Both

Best Cinematography:
Life of Pi - Both

Best Costume Design:
Anna Karenina - Both

Best Doc:
Searching for Sugar Man - Both

Best Doc Short:
Open Heart - Sarah
Mondays at Racine - Eric

Best Editing:
Argo - Both

Best Foreign Language Film:
Amour - Both

Best Makeup:
The Hobbit - Both

Best Original Score: 
Life of Pi - Both

Best Original Song: 
Skyfall - Both

Best Production Design: 
Anna Karenina - Both

Best Short Film (Animated): 
Paperman - Both

Best Short Film (Live Action): 
Asad - Sarah
Curfew - Eric

Best Sound Editing: 
Argo - Both

Best Sound Mixing:  
Les Miserables - Both

Best Visual Effects: 
Life of Pi - Both

Best Adapted Screenplay: 
Argo - Both

Best Original Screenplay: 
Django Unchained - Sarah
Zero Dark Thirty - Eric

Okay, so we only have 5 differences, which makes the challenge a little harder (the year we tied we only had 3 different). 

"You don't write because you want to say something, 
you write because you have something to say."
 - F. Scott Fitzgerald

There's a question that I've heard countless times over the past year: 'so, what's next after John Wayne's Bed?'

For a while, I didn't have an answer. I wrote a feature length comedy, had a sweet producing gig for a while, and toyed with writing a sitcom.  But there wasn't a next film.

There is now.

If you're only familiar with JWB, the answer may surprise you. Those of you that know me well have probably seen this one coming for a while.  JWB was unlike any film I've ever made.  It received more recognition than I had ever imagined.  I love that I was able to touch so many of you by sharing Allen's story. At the same time, I don't want to be typecast by my previous film.  Please don't think I'm setting out to make a poignant heart-felt drama.  Because, I'm not.

I got into this business to tell stories.  There is just something so wonderful about taking something from inside of your head and turning it into a creation that you can share with others.  Some stories are touching and poetic.  Others may be illogical and completely ridiculous.

For me, idea supersedes genre.  This isn't the 48 hour film project.  I just let it take me where it wants to go.  The idea will come first.  Most of the time, the genre will be built right in.  If not, it will follow when the pieces start falling into place.  I didn't just wake up one morning and exclaim, "I am going to write a slasher film!" and try to build it from there.  That's not how I work.

The idea for Turn Right on Madness came to me when I was driving back from a friend's wedding.  It was the first time I had ever traveled using a GPS (which is a sad statement seeing as I get lost all of the time).  It took us home a strange back way.  I just knew it was taking us out to the middle of no where so someone could kill us.

Bam. Idea.

I sat on the concept for a little over a year before everything finally started to materialize.  I'm glad I did because it allowed me to incorporate subtle details that I probably wouldn't've added if I had ran with the script right off the bat.

The place is here, the time is now. And this movie is going to be made.  A big thanks to everyone who's given me notes on my script so far.  They have been very helpful while working on this draft.  Also, helpful was the horror movie marathon that I threw myself this weekend.

So, fearless and faithful readers.  It's time to begin our next journey.  You've been here with me through JWB, so it's only fitting that I take you along on this next adventure.

We're just over a month away from filming. Am I nervous? You bet.  Do I still need actors, props, locations, and crew? Of course. How am I going to pull off some of the make-up effects that my script calls for? No idea.

I do know that I have some really great people helping me produce this film.  We're working on putting together a fantastic cast and crew.  Keep on the look-out, because there are at least two roles that I'll be casting soon.

The madness begins March 2nd.

Oscar Nom Predictions
Oscar nominations come out tomorrow.  For most people, you probably don't care.  But, as someone whose life is absorbed by movies, I always find this a very exciting time of year. Generally, I try to watch all (or more-so, most) of the Best Picture nominees, before the Oscars.  This year, I've tried to get a head start.

Me and my good pal Eric would like to share our choices for nominations with you.  For the most part, we agree.  There are a few discrepancies.  I guess we'll see how we fair in about 7 hours when they announce nominations.

So for your consideration, here's how we would vote on the following categories:

Best Picture

Sarah's picks:
1. Lincoln
2. Life of Pi
3. The Master
4. Argo
5. Zero Dark Thirty
6. Les Misérables
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
(8.) Amour
(9.) Silver Linings Playbook
(10.) Django Unchained

Eric's Picks:
1. Beasts of the Southern Wild
2. The Master
3. Django Unchained
4. Silver Linings Playbook
5. Lincoln
6. Life of Pi
7. Les Misérables
8. Zero Dark Thirty
9. Moonrise Kingdom
10. Argo

Best Director

Sarah's Picks:
1. Ben Affleck - Argo
2. Kathern Bigelow - Zero Dark Thirty
3. Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
4. Ang Lee - Life of Pi
5. Tom Hooper - Les Mis

Eric's Picks:
1. Steven Spielberg - Lincoln
2. Ang Lee - Life of Pi
3. Kathryn Bigelow - Zero Dark Thirty
4. Ben Affleck - Argo
5. Paul Thomas Anderson - The Master

Best Original Screenplay

Sarah's Picks:
1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Moonrise Kingdom
3. The Master
4. Amour
5. Flight

Eric's Picks:
1. The Master
2. Django Unchained
3. Moonrise Kingdom
4. Zero Dark Thirty
5. Looper

Best Adapted Screenplay

Sarah's Picks:
1. Life of Pi
2. Lincoln
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Argo
5. Perks of Being a Wallflower

Eric's Picks:
1. Life of Pi
2. Argo
3. Lincoln
4. Silver Linings Playbook
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Actor

Sarah's Picks:
1. Daniel Day Lewis - Lincoln
2. Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
3. Denzel Washington - Flight
4. John Hawkes - The Sessions
5. Bradley Cooper - Silver Linings Playbook

Eric's Picks:
1. Daniel Day Lewis - Lincoln 
2. Joaquin Phoenix - The Master
3. Denzel Washington - Flight
4. Bradley Cooper - Silver Lining's Playbook
5. John Hawks - The Sessions

Best Actress

Sarah's Picks:
1. Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
2. Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
3. Emmanuelle Riva - Amour
4. Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Marion Cotillard - Rust and Bone

Eric's Picks:
1. Jessica Chastain - Zero Dark Thirty
2. Jennifer Lawrence - Silver Linings Playbook
3. Emmanuelle Riva - Amour
4. Naomi Watts - The Impossible
5. Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Supporting Actor

Sarah's Picks:
1. Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
2. Alan Arkin - Argo
3. Javier Bardem - Skyfall
4. Phillip Seymor Hoffman - The Master
5. Christoph Waltz - Django 

Eric's Picks:
1. Tommy Lee Jones - Lincoln
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman - The Master
3. Christoph Waltz - Django Unchained
4. Alan Arkin- Argo
5. Robert De Niro - Silver Linings Playbook

Best Supporting Actress

Sarah's Picks:
1. Anne Hathaway - Les Misérables
2. Sally Field - Lincoln
3. Amy Adams - The Master
4. Helen Hunt - The Sessions
5. Nicole Kidman - The Paperboy

Eric's Picks:
1. Amy Adams - The Master
2. Helen Hunt - The Sessions
3. Anne Hathaway - Les Misérables
4. Sally Field - Lincoln
5. Maggie Smith - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Best Cinematography

Sarah's Picks:
1. Skyfall
2. Life of Pi
3. Lincoln
4. The Master
5. Django Unchained 

Eric's Picks:
1. Les Miserables
2. Life of Pi
3. Lincoln
4. Skyfall
5. Anna Karenina

Best Animated Feature

Sarah's Picks:
1. Wreck-It Ralph
2. Frankenweenie
3. Brave
4. Paranorman
5. The Painting

Eric's Picks:
1. Wreck it Ralph
2. Frankenweenie
3. Brave
4. ParaNorman
5. Rise of the Guardians

(I tried to include films that I've seen in italics.  I still have a lot of work to go before February 24th.)

We both included ten choices for Best Picture.  Of course, now the Academy is operating on a sliding scale and there could be anywhere between 5 and 10 nominees, depending on number of votes recieved and all that Academy voodoo that goes on.  But 2012, has proved to be a very strong year for films.  I would be very surprised if there were any less than 8 or 9 nominees for best picture... 

We also agreed on a possible list of spoilers for Best Picture (each also agreeing that Amour and Moonrise Kingdom, our only differences in Picture lists, were viable contenders).

  • Looper
  • Cloud Atlas
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • Sessions
  • Skyfall
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Hitchcock (I added this one after the fact)

So, who will win? We won't know until tomorrow.  Who do you agree with? Or is there something that we've both overlooked? Will there be a strange nomination that gets thrown in?