K.L.'s Bog: A Diary of Artful Things

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Thu Oct 2, 2008

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STILL ME SUBMITTED FOR CONSIDERATION OF A NOMINATION FOR THE ACADEMY AWARDS

This is the "more exciting news" I mentioned in the Sep. 17 entry and promised to reveal "when the time [was] ripe." The time is now ripe. Here is the official press release:

STILL ME  SUBMITTED FOR CONSIDERATION OF A NOMINATION FOR THE 81ST ACADEMY AWARDS.

Los Angeles, CA - October 1, 2008 - The short film Still Me was submitted for consideration of a nomination at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for the upcoming 81st Academy Awards, in the category of live action short film.

The reviewing committee of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch will screen eligible live action and animated shorts.

Academy Award® nominations in all categories will be announced on January 22, 2009, at 5:30 a.m. PST.

The 81st Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2008 will be held at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood and be telecast live by the ABC Television Network on Sunday, February 22, 2009.

Additional information may be obtained by visiting www.oscars.org.


Executive Producers: Daniel Bui, Amy Tripp-Myers, Beth McElhenny
Producers: Beth McElhenny, Chase White, Amy Tripp-Myers, Dara Fraley
Editor: Todd Carter
Music: Rich Brosco
Sound Mix: Jim Baldree
Director of Photography: Chun Ming Huang
Written & directed by: Beth McElhenny

Meanwhile, I am in anticipation of my trip to Oak Ridge, Tennessee next week to attend the Secret City Film Festival, where, of course, Still Me will screen as a contestant.



And tonight I see Jim Gaffigan in his live appearance at the E.J. Nutter Center, which is the Wright State University(*) sports & large-scale entertainment venue.

    (*): MY ALMA MATER & MY PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT VIA MY  REGULAR JOB


Sun, Oct 5, 2008

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SECRET CITY FILM FESTIVAL:

I am gearing up for the trip to Oak Ridge, Tennessee this week for the third screening of Still Me at such an event. The most recent development is that I am now the sole representative of the movie who will be present. Director Beth McElhenny and others who had planned to be there all have scheduling conflicts, so now it's just me.

The responsibility to actively promote the movie and accept any award now falls to me. I'm okay with this development and not intimidated; but there is the hair-thick somber tinge of paranoia that I will somehow come off as a dorky boob.

That's just that positive-thinking, self-affirming internal voice that does so much to boost my confidence so often. Yes, a real valuable member of the committee in my head.

Going to the printers after work tomorrow to get some postcards of the poster, (see below), to take with me for promotion. Also will get with the car rental company tomorrow morning and make sure there will be a compact-class car waiting for me on Wednesday when I show up.

Here is the promotional poster. Click on it for a larger version:

STILL ME poster -- Is it possible to see someone you love for who they are, not 
				who you want them to be? Brookwood Films presents 'Still Me' a flim by Beth McElhenny. 
				Scott King, Tina Gloss, Chase White, Darcie Davis, KL Storer, Robyn Barnard, Kathleen 
				Cleary, Fred Boettenger, David Harris, Kari Carter. Music by Rich Brosco, Edited by 
				Todd Carter, Post sound: Jim Baldree, Production Designer: Alena Williams. Producers: 
				Amy Tripp-Myers, Dara Fraley, Beth McElhenny and Chase White. Director of photography: 
				Chun Ming Huang. Executive producer: Daniel Bui. Written and directed by Beth McElhenny. 
				www.brookwoodfilms.com.



U.D. LAW DRAMATIC IMPROV GIG:

Doing another acting gig for the law students at the University of Dayton here in a couple weeks. Discussed it briefly with the acting coach, Fran Pesch, last night and it looks like I will be playing a new character in a new scenario from any I did last year.

This being a daytime gig on a Tuesday and a Thursday, and with this week's trip to the film festival, which will take four work days, I have now pushed that elusive three weeks of accumulated vacation leave earned into late January. And I'm sure to burn some more vacation hours before then.


ARTWORK FOR THE COVER OF LIFE:

And speaking of Fran Pesch, I'm going to help with the production of the Guild's next show, The Cover of Life, which she is directing. I will mock up a cover of Life magazine from the 1940's with the characters from the play on it, as cast for our mounting. The cast list will be made public sometime soon, too.


PRODUCING PLAYS:

I'm rolling into some pre-production for The Cashier, helmed by Sarah Gomes and opening this coming April 17. As I've already intimated I am thinking I will get both this and Fuddy Meers into stages of pre-production in the near future.


MOVIE PRODUCING/DIRECTING:

I am about to gather together actors and crew to shoot some improv DV movie footage. I know what location I want to shoot at and have at least a macro concept going on. This will be more experimental, so that I and the DP can discover how we want to shoot the improv movies. This is going to be a simple road. I'm going to approach actors I know can do this kind of work and see who wants to jump on. Later there may be auditions and such, but for this experimentation, auditions are not in order.


OUTWARD BOUND:

Saw the show at The Guild Saturday. Nice work. Another good production from a great theatre. Nice to welcome several wonderful new additions to the DTG stage: Ellen Finch, Angelé Price, and Rob Willoughby.



By the way, Jim Gaffigan was sexy-funny-good in his live appearance at Nutter Thursday night. Had a chance to meet him at the "Meet & Greet" after the show. Unfortunately I passed on it only because there was no information about it disseminated at the performance, so I had to root around to find out where it was. By the time I got to it the line was quite long and I had to get home. So oh well.

      Hot
      Pock-
    I went home and ate a -et


Mon, Oct 6, 2008

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THE TRIP TO THE VOLUNTEER STATE:

Still heading to the Secret City Film Festival, as early in the afternoon Wednesday as I can hit the road.

I also verified today that I'll be able to use my mobile phone to edit the blog while I am at the film festival. My hotel will have internet service, but since I still have not replaced my laptop, that perk does me little good. I was able, today, to use my phone's internet browser to get to the web-based control center for my domain and had full access to the html text-based editor. So I can post updates about the weekend more immanently -- providing that I can get cell service in Oak Ridge, that is. I will be taking photos, but those won't be posted until I get back, though I may add at least some pics retrospectively to the daily posts from the festival.

And if I have no service, I will still journal on the trip and post it all when I get home, with accompanying pictures.

For you five who care.


CREATIVE VACATION LEAVE ECONOMICS:

This morning I worked out a deal with my boss to work an extra ninety minutes today, tomorrow and the four days I am on the job next week; this reduces the number of vacation days I burn by 7.5 hours as well as giving me almost another work day to catch up on a mountain of back-log I already am dealing with in the office. That second point is actually the more important one. Though I do like conserving vacation leave whenever I can.



A COUPLE WOOLLCOTT PICS FROM WORK SONG
K.L.Storer as Alexander Woollcott in WORK SONG - THREE VIEWS OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT K.L.Storer as Alexander Woollcott in WORK SONG - THREE VIEWS OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
Two pictures of me as Alexander Woollcott in the recent Work Song - Three Views of Frank Lloyd Wright by Jeffrey Hatcher and Eric Simonson. Performed at the Wright designed historical site, The Westcott House, in Springfield, Ohio, Work Song was a production of Springfield StageWorks. Both pictures were snapped by the show's director, Larry Coressel, but at least one of them was with Liz Dillard's camera. Ms. Dillard appeared as Mamah Cheney and Olgivana Lloyd Wright in the production.


Wed Oct 8, 2008

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HEADING OUT TO THE SECRET CITY FILM FESTIVAL:

Just got back from picking up the rental car, a 2008 Chevy Cobalt. It's an "upgrade," which is code for: we didn't really reserve the class you asked for because we aren't organized enough nor do we care to be organized enough; we don't respect our customer base enough to actually attend to our reservations with care. I may seem snotty about it, but it's not the first time this has happened to me. As for my departure, I'm guessing I'll be on the road by about 2:00 or 3:00 and should hit Oak Ridge about 8:00-9:00 this evening. I haven't packed yet. But I'm a guy so it will not be an agonizing or a long process.

So sue me as a sexist.

And, truth be told, it may actually be "a little" agonizing. I am, after all, a tad bit neurotic.

Went to the T-Mobile site and checked out the service coverage map. According to that I should get between three to five bars while in Oak Ridge. We'll see. So look for the probability of daily blog entries whilst I am gone.

Still Me screens during a session of short films at noon on Friday. I wait with baited breath to finally see the movie.



Thu Oct 9, 2008

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ARRIVED IN OAK RIDGE:

It was about 8:30 when I got to my motel in Oak Ridge. The Secret City Film Festival officially starts later today, about three miles from where I am.

Indeed, the drive was close to exactly five and a half hours.

3:00 pm

      Left the printers, where I had just picked up an order of 6x4 postcards of the Still Me promo postcard, and hit the last several miles of I-675 toward I-75 South.
4:00 pm
      Crossed the bridge over the Ohio River and entered Kentucky.
8:30 pm       Arrived in Oak Ridge

K.L. writes part of this blog entry before retiring on Wednesday evening, Oct 8, 2008
Me in the motel room Wednesday night, working on this blog entry, for posting the next morning.
K.L. writes part of this blog entry before retiring on Wednesday evening, Oct 8, 2008
More of the same, whilst I watched some TV.
Brought a copy of Catfish Moon to read during my "spare" time this weekend, to prep for the upcoming audition for January's mounting at The Guild.

I do this sort of nonsense all the time. Used to take trips when I was in college and bring text books to read class assignments -- you might guess that I never read them on my stays; not once. Did I have the opportunity to read some of it in my room last night? Well, yeah. What did I do?: watched Criminal Minds, CSI: New York, The Daily Show, Lettermen, South Park and The Sarah Silvermen Show.

And damned if I didn't forget to set my VCR to record the season opening of the original  CSI tonight! -- (that's right, I know it's so 20th Century, but I have a VCR not DVR or Tivo). I am tempted to leave tonight's festival opening in time to get back to my room and catch the show. I mean, come on! Warrick got murdered for the love of Pete!.

Nevertheless, I have Catfish Moon with me and have every intention of reading at least some of it.

On another note, I guess it must be obvious that I have good cell service here in Oak Ridge.

Now, off to breakfast. Okay, okay: brunch.



Fri Oct 10, 2008

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The Moondollars cafe in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Moondollars Cafe, in the corner of the Jackson Square complex, where the Oak Ridge Playhouse is. Moondollars is about a 90 second stroll away from the Playhouse. -- Click on image for larger version.
K.L. puts info stcikers on the back of STILL ME promo cards.
Thursday, early afternoon in the motel room, after my trip to Staples to buy a paper cutter. I've cut up the little stickers and I am applying them to the back of the STILL ME promo postcards.
The Oak Ridge Playhouse in Oak Ridge, TN.
The front of the Oak Ridge Playhouse -- Click on image for larger version.
SECRET CITY FILM FESTIVAL, DAY I

THU, OCT 9: So here's how the "morning" went. I went to that breakfast/brunch I mentioned yesterday. Then I scoped out the area of the venue, The Oak Ridge Playhouse. Right in the Jackson Square complex, where the Playhouse is, I came across The Moon Dollar Cafe. My plan was to sit there with a cup or two or more of coffee and attach stickers to the back of the 4x6 versions of the Still Me poster. The stickers have the time and date of the screening at this festival as well as the movie's previous wins at the other festivals.

One problem. The sheets of stickers I had printed earlier this week were not perforated between each copy of the item. I need to cut them down with a paper cutter and I let that detail slip my mind. I had planned to do it Tuesday at work but was so focused on kicking out as much of my back-log there as I could before vacation started that I forgot all about it. And I continued to forget all about it until I was pulling the material out of my bag at The Moon Dollar.

Needed a new paper cutter anyway. I've basically donated mine to The Guild, so it was no sweat that I bought a new one today, ignoring the $35 that came out of my travel budget.

After I got each little sticker unit cut out then figured out how to get the adhesive cover off the back of most of them, which was difficult as most of them did not have a peel slit on the back, I placed them on the back of the postcards. Put them on counters and such in several shoppes in the vicinity of the theatre, as well as, of course, the designated table for such in the theatre itself.

Got to the Playhouse a little early and met Dana McDaniel, wife of the festival founder, Keith. We chatted for a while then I asked where I could get a late lunch and she recommended The Soup Kitchen, just around the corner. And by the way, if you're ever in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, I can recommend a fabulous place to get a great bowl of soup. Try the mushroom and brie soup.

Though there were some technical problems getting the movies to play, the festival has gotten off to a good start. We saw two nice narrative shorts, and one short and one long documentary. Hate to admit it, but I begged out before the longer doc was done. I had to see CSI!

Now I'm off to breakfast, then the one workshop I'm attending: "Everything You Need to Know About Getting Into Film Festivals." and that means getting your MOVIE into film festivals. Then, I finally get to see Still Me, which will hit the screen about 12:45 this afternoon.

Pictures of the theatre area of the Oak Ridge Playhouse, where all the movies screen.
The theatre area of the oak Ridge Playhouse
click on the image for a larger version
The theatre area of the oak Ridge Playhouse
click on the image for a larger version
The theatre area of the oak Ridge Playhouse
click on the image for a larger version
The theatre area of the oak Ridge Playhouse
click on the image for a larger version
K.L. puts info stcikers on the back of STILL ME promo cards.
Again, as I put the info stickers on the back of the STILL ME postcards.
Front and back of the STILL ME prom card for the Secret City Film Festival
The back & front of the promo postcard as prepared for the Secret City Film Festival. -- Click on the image for a larger version.
Movie promo display table
The display table earlier in the festival. If I remember this was Thursday in the early evening.
Closer view of the STILL ME card on the display table.
I'll have you know that STILL ME was the first movie represented by an attendee and ours was the first promo for a competing film to be put on the display table. -- Click on the image for a larger version.

* Right next to our card on the display table you'll see the card for AL'S BEEF, an interesting western short with a budget that might just match and beat all the other budgets for all the other the shorts in competition at SSFF, combined. AL'S BEEF has Dean Stockwell in it.



Sat Oct 11, 2008

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Oak Ridge Playhouse exterior sign
The Oak Ridge Playhouse lobby
The top level of the Oak Ridge Playhouse lobby. -- Click on the image for a larger version
Secret City Film Festival 2008
People gathering; registrations being purchased
SECRET CITY FILM FESTIVAL, DAY II

FRI, OCT 10: So I missed the Friday morning movie for no good reason. The workshop I went to at the Oak Ridge Arts Center actually is this morning not yesterday. By the time I realized it, I had missed more than half of the full-length feature screening at the Playhouse. So I went and had lunch at Moondollars Cafe. Couldn't fit breakfast in earlier as I'd planned.

Still Me showed during the noon block of shorts and you might guess I was sure to make that. The problem was that our film and the others were competing against a workshop about using the new Red Camera, so the overwhelming population of the festival was at that. I'd say less than a dozen people were in the audience for the four shorts.

From a different angle, I finally got to see the movie. I must say I am proud to be part of such a great little movie. Scott and Tina do wonderful work. Both the two main supporting actors, Darcie Davis and David Harris do good work, as do the rest. As I knew would be the case, I was not enthused to see me on film. It was once again the jumpy, too-animated, kinetics in my presence on screen. It probably works here, but I don't like it and I need to calm that habit down.

The Q&A after the screenings was painless and short. I was the only representative of any of the shorts, and with so few audience members there was not a lot of ground. I did talk a little about Beth's stroke as the germ of the film, the great news about the consideration for an Oscar nomination, Scott's win at Spudfest, and I plugged Tina's appearances on Pushing Daisies.

Actor Natalie Canerday is at the festival. Among her work she appears in Sling Blade. She and I had a brief discussion about what a good dramatic actor John Ritter was. She also said he was a major cut-up on the set, playing jokes on Billy Bob Thorton, especially. Ms. Canerday appears in the short, Greener, which is showing tonight.

Now, I AM off to that workshop about how to get a film accepted at festivals.

Festival attendees gathered outside of the Playhouse before the day started, between screenings, and when the day was done, to mingle, discuss and socialize.
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Inside the theatre, officials officated, attendees watch movies, film makers sweated, audiences applauded, film makers answered questions. Then we all went out side again and mingled, discussed and socialized.
Keith McDaniels at Secret City Film Festival 2008
Secret City Film Festival 2008 audience
Q and A at Secret City Film Festival 2008
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling

Oh yeah. My Oak Ridge restaurant recommendation for this post: Big Ed's Pizza.



Sun, Oct 12, 2008

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CLOSING TODAY

OUTWARD BOUND by Sutton Vane at the Dayton Theatre Guild,

The cast of Outward Bound
in order of appearance

Duante Beddingfield            Scrubby
Angelé Price            Ann
Robb Willoughby            Henry
Danny Lipps            Mr. Tom Prior
Ellen Finch            Mrs. Cliveden-Banks
Michael Boyd            Rev. William Duke
Barbara Jorgensen            Mrs. Midget
Blake Senseman            Mr. Lingley
Gil Martin            Rev. Frank Thomson
   
Jennifer Lockwood            Assistant Director




The Oak Ridge Plauhouse in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
K.L.Storer in Oak Ridge, TN for the Secret City Film Festival
SECRET CITY FILM FESTIVAL, DAY III

SAT, OCT 11: Another full day with good movies. Some shorts that are making me nervous as the cast member of a competitor against them.

Last night several shorts and a full-length feature screened that were not in the competition. The festival's founder was a producer for all three and directed one, Greener, which features Natalie Canerday. The feature is a really well-done dramedy entitled Boys of Summerville starring a talented young actor named Casey Payne.

Another "brush-with-fame" incident: character actor David Dwyer is in Boys of Summerville and is here. I had a nice, brief conversation with him last night. Mr. Dwyer is approaching 100 feature film credits and many many episodic TV guest spots -- The Firm, Fried Green Tomatoes, We Are Marshall, Matlock, and Dawson's Creek to name a few. He is receiving the Secret City Film Festival Founder's Award this evening.

Two very talented and lovely young actors from the area who were both in several films over the course of the weekend were Allison Varnes and Leigh Ann Jernigan. Both have serious skill. Ms. Varnes, in fact had the female lead as Sam, the love interest in Boys of Summerville, opposite Casey. And my cursory exposure to both in person suggests that they are both nice young women.

Right now it's a little after 1 p.m. I've already seen a couple films today. I'm missing a couple documentaries because I had to fit food in sometime. It's a full day with the awards tonight. I will post how our film did, but after I've clued in Beth.

I'll report on today and do a recap of the whole affair, either tomorrow or Tuesday.

Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
K.L.Storer in Oak Ridge, TN for the Secret City Film Festival
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling


Mon, Oct 13, 2008

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SECRET CITY FILM FESTIVAL WRAP-UP COMING. . . .

BUT IN THE MEANTIME,
HERE IS A RESULT FOR YOU

2008 Secret City Film Festival - October 9-12 - Oak Ridge, Tennessee - Best Family Film: STILL ME - directed by Beth McElhenny

I will post the wrap-up of the weekend soon. Perhaps tomorrow evening. Need to find time to write it.


OTHER STILL ME NEWS:

The movie now has an IMDb page -- www.imdb.com/title/tt1302204/. The info is not filled out completely yet. Most of the cast is not there yet. I am not there yet, though I believe I am allowed to submit my name for addition to the credits and likely will soon.



Sun, Oct 19, 2008

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SECRET CITY FILM FESTIVAL, DAY IV & RECAP OF THE FESTIVAL

Secret City Film Festival 2008. Oak Ridge, Tennessee

2008 Secret City Film Festival - October 9-12 - Oak Ridge, Tennessee - Best Family Film: STILL ME - directed by Beth McElhenny
K.L.Storer and Natalie Canerday at awards ceremony for the 2008 Secret City Film Festival
I accept the Best Family Film Award from screen actor Natalie Canerday, on behalf of Director Beth McElhenny, for STILL ME at the 2008 Secret City Film Festival.
Photo courtesy of The Secret City Film Festival
photographer: Ray Smith
David Dwyer flim clip from BOYS OF SUMMERVILE at the secret City Film Festival, 2008
David Dwyer in a film clip from Boys of
Summerville
during the presentation of his Secret City Film Festival Founder's Award. This, just one of many clips shown from a choice selection of David's 90-plus film appearances.
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival founder, Keith McDaniel
Keith McDaniel being interviewed by local press about the festival.
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 audience in the theatre
The film festival audience in the theatre for more screenings.
Secret City Film Festival 2008 audience member in the theatre
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 audience in the theatre
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 audience in the theatre
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 audience in the theatre
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
Movie promo display table
Secret City Film Festival founder, Keith McDaniel
The Oak Ridge Playhouse in Oak Ridge, TN.
The theatre area of the oak Ridge Playhouse
Last Sunday was, of course, the closing day of the festival and another full day with the screenings ending with a most unusual, surrealistic film-noir/sci-fi hybrid entitled Yesterday Was a Lie, directed by James Kerwin and the ultimate winner of the festival's first place award for feature film. Having missed at least one full-length feature during the weekend I was not hard set that it would win, but I certainly reasoned it was a strong contender.

After that closing movie, we took a short break, then the awards were given out. As you already know, Still Me is three for three, having taken home the Best Family Film award from this festival. We have won something at every festival, so far. Here we tied with a gentle and sweet short by North Carolina director, Nic Beery, Veronica Always .

Before the movie awards were handed out, however, screen character actor David Dwyer was awarded the 2008 Secret City Film Festival Founder's Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Film. David has been in nearly 100 films in his almost twenty-year career, starting with 1989's Winter People, starring Kurt Russell, Kelly McGillis and Lloyd Bridges.


Here are all the award winners from the festival:

EXTRAORDINARY ACHIEVEMENT FOR A FEATURE FILM:
The Flyboys

    Directed by Rocco DeVilliers. Produced by Dan Urness. Starring: Jesse James, Reiley McClendon, Stephen Baldwin, Tom Sizemore.
    Two boys from a small town find their courage tested when they accidentally stow away aboard an airplane owned by the mob.

    Really a very good movie that was clearly stuck in the can for several years. Jesse James is now twenty-one and Reiley McClendon is twenty; they are not so in the movie.

FIRST PLACE FEATURE FILM:
Yesterday Was a Lie

    Directed by James Kerwin. Produced by Chase Masterson. Starring: Kipleigh Brown, Chase Masterson, John Newton, Mik Scriba.
    A groundbreaking new noir film, Yesterday Was a Lie combines the thrills of a classic detective mystery with the imagination of science fantasy.

    Like I said above, a most unusual, surrealistic film-noir/sci-fi hybrid. It took me a while to warm up to it. Had I been watching it on cable at home, I might have changed the channel in the first act.

SECOND PLACE FEATURE FILM:
Surviving Guthrie

    Directed by Ed Smith. Produced by Ed Smith, Jessie Harris. Starring: Jessie Rose Pennington, Joe Gatton.
    An unconventional college journalism professor's estranged daughter is blackmailed into the impossible task of reforming her father's classroom behavior by the college Dean.

    Nice performance from both and good chemistry between the two principals.

AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE:
The Flyboys

FIRST PLACE SHORT FILM:
The Duel

    Directed by Christian Palacios. Produced by Matthew Kirk. Starring: Brian Elder.
    A fast pace abstract Western about two lonely gunmen who find themselves believing there's more dignity in death then there is in life. Ultimately they must win the duel within themselves before it's too late.

    It does have an interesting twist.

SECOND PLACE SHORT FILM:
The Miracle

    Directed by Jeffrey Jon Smith. Produced by Jeffrey Jon Smith, Jerry Prochazka. Starring: Tekki Lomnicki, Rula Gardenier.
    For a chance at redemption, Tekki Lomnicki, a little person, will need all her courage, humor and imagination to face the truth about her life.

    I missed about the first half, but I liked what I saw.

AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST SHORT:
Leto

    Directed by Luke Dye. Produced by Matthew Pessoni, Nicole Henrich. Starring: Scott Moreno
    Mr. Leto, a motel assistant manager, lives his life looking out onto the lives of the motel's occupants. He wishes for their lives in lieu of his own. Yet when his wish becomes granted, he comes to realize everyone has their vice.

    Stylish.

FIRST PLACE DOCUMENTARY FILM:
Finding Kraftland

SECOND PLACE DOCUMENTARY FILM:
Looking for Ms. Locklear

    Directed by Link Neal, Rhett McLaughlin. Produced by Link Neal, Rhett McLaughlin.
    The story of two lifelong best friends and semi-famous web comedians, Rhett&Link, searching for the teacher of the first grade class where they met. Deciding to use only word of mouth, their journey leads them deep into the heart of an obscure tribe of Native Americans, the Lumbee of North Carolina.

    Very enjoyable and engaging. Rhett and Link are featured and they have great screen presence and clearly recognize the same in some of those whom they encounter on their adventure.

AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY:
Looking for Ms. Locklear

FIRST PLACE ANIMATED FILM:
Raccoon and Crawfish

    Directed by Calvert J. Waller III.
    A hungry raccoon searches for food and finds a crawfish on a quest for glory. Their battle will decide the fate between an ego full of pride or a belly full of food.

    Did not get to see this one

SECOND PLACE ANIMATED FILM:
Plain and Simple

    Directed by Merrin Marra. Produced by Merrin Mara, Jose Marra. Starring: Karyn Morris, Trent, Deborah Leydig, Elise Kauzlaric, Bryan McHenry, Jose Marra.
    A children's story come to life, combining a unique mixture of animated creatures, sets, and props, with real-life actors. This short film is essentially a moral tale about the great value of inner beauty and a struggle to belong. This story is centered upon the plight of a plain little penguin named Pauly who is threatened with removal from the birdhouse of a zoo run by money-grubbing capitalists simply because he does not generate enough interest to guarantee profits.

    Did not get to see this one

BEST TENNESSEE FEATURE FILM:
Being Lincoln - Men With Hats

    Directed by Elvis Wilson. Produced by Elvis Wilson.
    This documentary is an upbeat, up-close look at the lives and motivations of a few of the over 160 men across the United States who are dedicated to bringing Abraham Lincoln to life. These Honest Abes are living tributes to our 16th President, and a testament to the power of Lincoln's legacy. But what kind of man would spend $400 on a stovepipe hat, glue a pencil eraser on his face, and spend most of his time walking in someone else's (very large) shoes?

    The immediate urge at the concept of these "impersonators" is to snicker or guffaw. But once pulled into their stories, (and they are not "impersonators," they are "presenters"). you find that these men are noble and admirable.

SECOND PLACE TENNESSEE FEATURE FILM:
Grateful Films

    Directed by David Rowlett. Produced by David Rowlett. Starring: Mike Stanley
    An independent filmmaker, rejected by everyone, falls in love with a mystery woman and gets drawn into a sinister criminal ring. His short films are incorporated in the larger story.

    Some good camera work.

BEST TENNESSEE SHORT FILM:
Leto

SECOND PLACE TENNESSEE SHORT FILM:
In a Blink

    Directed by Dusty Clark. Produced by Dusty Clark. Starring: Allison Varnes, Laurel Hackworth, Eddie Nickerson, Leigh Ann Jernigan, Linds Edwards.
    Emily, a troubled teenage girl pushed by bad choices, becomes trapped and has no other option but to confront her problems. She realizes what went wrong between her and her family and may never be able to set things right.

    I was quite impressed with this one and was worried about it as competition against our movie. This was one of those several films over the course of the festival to feature Ms. Varnes and Ms. Jernigan; and they showed their good skill here as in the other appearances. Also have to make a comment about young Ms. Laurel Hackworth, who it was obvious spent hours during production, uncomfortably stuffed upside down in the cabin of a car in a ditch. The DP and director both told me that she was a real trooper about it and never whined or complained. One deserves to be hailed hardy for that sort of professionalism.

BEST STUDENT FILM:
Keys

    Directed by Christopher Babers. Produced by Damen Fletcher. Starring: Wayne Baldwin, Trhea Danae, Francisco Farr.
    When Leann receives a grim diagnosis of cancer, she and her bi-racial son Eli travel back to her childhood home in the Midwest, in order for Leann to make amends with her estranged father. Upon her arrival, the healing between these two takes shape in the most unlikely of ways.

    Very lean story telling with great production values.

BEST TENNESSEE STUDENT FILM:
Days To Remember

    Directed by Miranda Vandergriff, Hannah Hopkins. Produced by Miranda Vandergriff.
    A short but powerful film that captures the effects of the Holocaust on children and their families. Winner of the 2008 Marble City Film Festival student competition, this was hailed as "the most textured and intelligent film" by Betsy Pickle, local film critic.

    Did not get to see this one

BEST FAMILY FILM - TIE:
Veronica Always

    Directed by Nic Beery. Produced by Nic Beery. Starring: Fallon D'Eliseo, Jon Wilner, Sarah Honer.
    Elliot's wife Veronica died in 2006 and he misses her. She was his fearless leader for 53 years. Laura, 22, works at Elliot's assisted living home and goes to school. Laura and Elliot have become friends. He knows she has dreams of being a dancer, just like Veronica was. An old 78 record Elliot gives Laura combines one memory and one dream. Together, the possibilities are endless.

    Sweet and sentimental and there's nothing wrong with that.

BEST FAMILY FILM - TIE:
Still Me

SOUTHERN LENS AWARD FOR BEST SOUTHERN FILM:
Looking for Ms. Locklear

FOUNDER'S AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN INDEPENDENT FILM:
David Dwyer

    Having appeared in nearly 100 films, David is one of the most versatile character actors in film and television. His epic rise began when he landed a role in the [1989] film Winter People, where he spent eight weeks shooting in the mountains of North Carolina. His film credits include The Firm, Robocop II and III, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, Fried Green Tomatoes, Remember the Titans, Runaway Jury, We Are Marshall, and Boys of Summerville. In addition to his film work, David has appeared in dozens of television films and series'. David and his wife Marilyn have two children, Nick and Ethan. David is active in his community and is known for his various charity works. For the past two years, he has been exploring his new love and talent -- teaching film acting.

    I had a couple nice conversations with David and found him to be a nice guy, down to earth and practical. It is interesting to me that he never moved to L.A. or New York. His whole career he's stayed in the South and has been able to consistently get work in movies shooting there; though, of course, he commutes to L.A or NYC for productions when called for. We talked a little about the business in general, including the current conflict between SAG and AFTRA. And he shared some of his thoughts on techniques to teach acting and to direct theatre.

OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER AWARD:
KnoxvilleFilms (Michael Samstag)

*BE ADVISED THAT ALL OF THE PROSE IN THE SECTION DETAILING THE AWARDS CAME FROM EITHER THE SECRET CITY FILM FESTIVAL WEB SITE OR WAS LIFTED FROM THIS YEAR'S FESTIVAL PROGRAM -- SAVE FOR THE ITALICIZED BLUE COMMENTS AFTER THE SYNOPSES, THOSE COMMENTS BEING MY WORDS.


Now I have attended my first overnight film festival. A couple of people from the Still Me production have told me how nice it was of me to represent the movie there. But, as I told them both, it was hardly a burden. I got to get away from the "rent-paying job" and go spend time in an element I am much more attracted to and suited for. Got to drive through the Smokey Mountains, though it was night when I drove home. And as a freshman movie-maker myself, it's about time I started getting to some film festivals. Too bad I don't have the time and money to go all the time.

Have pretty much maxed out my credit card, though ultimately I came in under my original budget for the trip; gasoline hovering at $3.50 didn't hurt. The expenses directly tied to the festival amounted to $653.79. That does not include the paper cutter I had to buy in Oak Ridge, but since that had about ten minutes of use toward the promo postcards and will get plenty of use long after, it's not really an expense of this trip. I also will most probably get some money back from the Still Me producers who have asked for the printing receipts for the postcards plus the cost to mail the award plaque and the beta DV tape, (used for the festival screening), to L.A. All of that totals $31. So, ignoring the expense of the paper cutter, I really came in almost $100 under budget for the festival.

It certainly was worth it. I think this was a prime first film festival for me. It was a smaller, more intimate affair, with all the screenings in the same venue. The mingling before, after and in between the screenings was of the festival cohort population as a whole, rather than segmented portions here and there and there.

That concept of me being in an environment I am attracted to and suited for, that "being in my element" is a very real thing. Both the sophomore actor and the freshman film maker -- as I see myself in both those perspective roles -- both had a good time and learned.

The film maker, the movie director, he learned a bit more. One lesson I learned from a particular movie is that poor editing can really bog down a movie. One of the feature lengths was shot well and acted very well. The script was pretty good, too. But the editing was not tight at all. Many shots, an overwhelming amount of shots just simply were not trimmed down as they should have been. When ever you shoot a shot, you need to place what are called "handles" on the shot. Handles are at least a second or so of footage, with the camera on the subject, both before and after the action you intend to capture. The whole shot, including the handles needs to be in character for the intended action. This gives the editor some wiggle room for editing the various shots of a scene together. If the editor needs, say, a quarter-second of handle footage before the action, to help with pace or good marrying of one shot with the previous shot, to keep the action of the sequence of edits smooth or in pace, the footage is there to facilitate such. The editor of course should choose to cut in as close to the action as is possible without making the crossover from one shot to the next jerky -- unless "jerky" or "choppy" is a purposeful choice to effect a mood.

Unfortunately, in this particular movie, too many unnecessary portions of the handles were left in. The cuts from one shot to the next often had too much dead space before and after the action of the shot. A second here, a half second there, a second and a half someplace else, it adds up quick and might as well be quicksand, it so bogs the action down.

Something else that happens in editing is what is called compressing the action, or the time. You watch the spy cross the airport terminal from the perspective of an overhead mezzanine. As he makes his journey, the camera cuts to the counterspy's face, peering from the corner of that mezzanine. The camera cuts back, just a split second later, and our spy on the floor is twenty yards farther on his journey. There are several more of these cross cuts and he has always gained about as much distance. A trek that in reality might take him 60 or 70 seconds, or more, takes him 15 in this sequence. That is "condensing time" or "condensing action."

Another thing you want to do as the editor is only show enough of an establishment shot or sequence to establish, and no more. We see a hypothetical woman pull into the parking lot, get out of her car, walk in the front door of the office complex, push the button on the elevator, the elevator door opens and she steps out, she walks by her secretary and they exchange hellos, then she sits at her office desk and the next instant we see a shot of her phone as it rings. Each of those shots should be less than a second, some maybe only a quarter-second. It should be a series of shots that, put together, lasts perhaps four seconds. It could have been as much as two or three minutes, but what's the point in that unless it's for the opening credits? Three minutes of that would be boring. Four seconds tells you all you need to know and then, bang, she gets that phone call that moves the plot along.

The editing of the movie in question was guilty of low marks at all of these principals, especially the lack of trimming handles down. It dragged the pace and sucked energy from the movie. Actually there were two movies that had this particular problem.

Also, as much as I ultimately ended up liking and appreciating the first place feature film winner, Yesterday Was a Lie, as I said in my comments about it, had I been watching it on cable at home, rather than sitting in a screening at a festival, I might have changed the channel in the first act. It wasn't that it had sluggish pacing or logy energy, it was, for me at least, that it was taking a while to make any sense of a story developing. The characters were all acting as if a story was developing, but they weren't letting me in on it. By ten minutes in I was a little bored and a lot frustrated. Lesson learned for me and the future movies I will make: engage your audience quickly in your story.

As an actor the big lesson for me was really a review. Watching myself in my scene in Still Me I was unhappy with the amount of what I deem my unnecessary body movement, especially my bobbing and weaving of my head. I still need to learn to subtle-down my movement. I am too jerky, to frantic and kinetic in my on-screen behavior. As I said above, in the October 11 entry, I suppose it works for Sam in Still Me, and I am sure it was an advantage for me as Dean Schultz in Ghostbusters: Spook University, but overall, it is a liability. Maybe if I were to play James Carville, I could again justify it, but right now....

Natalie Canerday's performance in the short Greener, directed by the festival's founder Keith McDaniel, is a great example of how a movie is far more about what you see. Natalie's character has no lines, or few lines, for most of the movie, uttering only a word and a non-verbal noise, as her character reacts with her facial expressions and body language (what theatrical academics call "internal dialogue"). I don't believe she speaks a sentence until within the last two minutes of the movie. She was most effective. And as I calm my on-screen behavior down, I also want to better hone it toward such acting as that. I believe I already have that skill, but, getting better at it is always the goal.

Remember that workshop, "Everything You Need to Know About Getting Into Film Festivals" -- (i.e.: getting your MOVIE into film festivals) ? I learned a few important things at that. Experimental movies are popular with festival programers, which may be of value to me, but I'm not going to shoot an experimental film simply as a means to get into a festival. At least, if I have an idea for one, I know it would be acceptable as a genre.

Packaging counts more than I have been led to believe in a few instances. There were four festival runners on the panel and they all agreed the packaging of the initial submission should look professional. One of them admitted that when he gets a DVD that has just the title etched across it in black magic marker, he tends to put off watching it, that it keeps getting set aside in lieu of more professional-looking disks. What he said is going through his mind is that it's probably as poorly produced as it looks.

In that same conversation another festival runner expressed his frustration at getting incorrect contact information and in some cases, no contact information, with submissions. Believe it or not this is quite common. Weird, I say.

Here's one: does your DVD work? Be sure you have sent a DVD that will run in a standard DVD player, or that you're not sending a faulty one. It might not be a bad idea on your part to bring an extra one with you if you can attend the festival. Some smarter film makers actually send an extra one to the festival once they have been accepted, just so the festival programers have a back-up.

They also suggested that the film maker tailor the synopsis and any cover letter to the specific festival they are submitting to. Don't lie, but do tell the festival officials the things about the movie that it is obvious they will be attracted to. Also on the sheet with the synopsis should be any important information the programer may want to know. For instance, Keith McDaniel's documentary, The Clinton 12 is narrated by James Earl Jones. That is a type of fact you never want to fail to tell the people deciding whether your film will be accepted to a festival.

Here's one I would have thought was a no-brainer, but, then again, it ought not surprise me that submitters blow this one: Pay attention to the specs & requirements. If the Midwest Family Values Film Festival does not want horror or movies with nudity, sex, violence or harsh language and your movie has one or more of these elements, the Midwest Family Values Film Festival is not for you. If the web site says, "Send as standard DVD or on CD-ROM as an MP4 file, only," don't send a VHS or mini DV cassette.

Also, they all were quick to say that film makers should understand that they are charged with the responsibility to promote their screening at the festival. The festival runner will promote the festival as a whole. The special promotional attention for your film is your job. One of them told the story of a director who had a documentary on a musician showing at this runner's festival. The fellow contacted him weeks ahead of the festival and asked for information on all of the record stores in a certain radius (I believe it was forty miles, but am not sure). The film maker then printed and sent posters, promoting the screening, to all of the stores. He had the biggest attendance of the festival.

If you movie is not accepted into the festival and you want to know why, wait until you are sure things have settled down for the festival runners, then send a gentle letter or email, asking if there is any input you might get about why the movie didn't make the grade; what would have made a difference. Irate sore losers go onto the ignore list.

In short, make it easy on the festival runners. Even if your movie isn't accepted into competition this year, don't burn your bridge. You don't want a bad taste in their mouth over you when you have the final cut of your next film for submission.

I also asked about the advice I'd already been given that a thirty to thirty-five (or forty) minute movie will have a hard time getting into a film festival. The thought here is that a short should be no longer than twenty minutes, and then the length should jump to a feature of at least seventy minutes. The consensus I got from the workshop room was that if a programer had his or her choice, they'd much rather schedule two or three twenty-minutes in a slot rather than a thirty or a, say, sixty minute film. On the other hand if they have what they consider a very good thirty-five minute film in their hands, they will find a place to show it. Perhaps it'll open a block to be followed by a ninety minute feature. So I am less concerned than I was.

Later, in the Q&A after his movie screened, one of the film makers, Ajit Anthony Prem shared that he used a free morphing program, Morph X to get a really nice effect in his lovely short, Dear Stranger. I have downloaded it but have not yet installed it, but probably will have by the time most of you throng of five readers read this.

Here's something else I learned. It was a big, massive, stinking DOH! moment. Sunday evening, during the mingling after the awards, a film maker asked me for my card, my résumé and a headshot. None of which I had brought. Right now I don't have any cards printed, though I did design some a while ago. How it did not occur to me in the front of my cranial cavity to have these things on me at a friggin' film festival is beyond me.

Here's a lesson NEVER LEARNED : I did not read Catfish Moon during the trip. I, of course, knew I would not. Just like them text books I took on trips when I was in college.

For the record, I left the party in Oak Ridge at about 9:30 Sunday night. I got home just about 3 a.m. Monday morning.

And it was a great four days leading up to that guy who fell into bed at just about 3:05 a.m.

Movie promo display table
The theatre area of the oak Ridge Playhouse
The theatre area of the oak Ridge Playhouse
The Oak Ridge Playhouse in Oak Ridge, TN.
Secret City Film Festival 2008 attendees mingling
The theatre area of the oak Ridge Playhouse
Front and back of the STILL ME prom card for the Secret City Film Festival
The Oak Ridge Playhouse in Oak Ridge, TN.
2008 Secret City Film Festival - October 9-12 - Oak Ridge, Tennessee - Best Family Film: STILL ME - directed by Beth McElhenny
Click on image for larger version.


MY MOVIE PROJECTS:

Yesterday I met with the DP for the improv narrative long-form short DV movies, Fred Boomer. We scouted what I intend as the primary location for the project's initial experimental shoots. Now I just need to actually get the cast. I've sent feelers out to a few actors I know whom I know or believe can do this sort of work. I will get formal with the invite as well as go looking for a few more.

Looking down the road, I have always seen an opening for that 30-35 minute screenplay that is an overhead chopper shot. I had essentially written it off, but now I am going to look into chartering one for a few hours. We won't go into my object terror of heights. I spoke with a movie producer Friday night and mentioned this. She advised that the shot will need to be made by an arial cinematographer who has all of the right equipment and skills to get a steady shot as well as the giblets it takes to possibly have to lean out of a chopper.

In terms of other movies projects, there is, as I believe I've mentioned before, a short story I published at my literary web site that I know would make a great short movie. As soon as I have the cash built up, I plan to approach the author about optioning the movie rights. There are also a couple more stories by me that I want to turn into screenplays. One is not finished, yet. There are other stories at my lit site I might think about optioning, too.


CATFISH MOON AUDITION:

Still haven't read the play. Have today. Auditions are tomorrow and Tuesday night. The show's producer, Debra Kent, sent out some sides, which I will, of course, look at today. But, I want to also read the whole play today.


MS. NATASHA RANDALL AND MY MUMMY:

Actually, in terms of actors and others I know who are involved with this project, I can add to the list -- Fred Blumenthal, Doug Carpenter, Wayne Justice, Sheila Ramsey, and George R. Willeman. But Tosha is the one most relevant here. She was in the street in Fairborn, outside of Foy's both Friday night and last night, promoting the indy feature -- My Mummy -- for which she has the female lead of Kat Stephonik.

She was there with Glenn H. 'Bud' Martin, who is Kat's mummy, aka: Hunute the Mummy. Kat and Hunute danced various dances from the film, live on the street as the director and producer, J. Todd Anderson, and one of the film's co-producers, Marion Schniegenberg, sold DVDs. I bought one. I have not watched it yet.

J. Todd, by-the-way, does the story boards for all of the Coen Brothers' films.

Marion is who talked to me about the special needs for an aerial cinematographer for that chopper shot I want.



Mon, Oct 20, 2008

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CATFISH MOON AUDITION:

Did finally read the play, yesterday afternoon, parked at John Bryan State Park.

I haven't been getting to the forested parks enough this year -- but I digress.

It certainly is a character-driven play, a little light on plot development, but still offers some great roles for actors. I would be happy in any of the three male roles. I am drawn just slightly more to one of the characters but it's an insignificant measure of preference. There's one that, if director Saul Caplan is pure to the text when casting, I probably am the wrong physical type for; the character is written as a larger man than I.

I haven't sat down and drilled the sides I have for the audition yet, but I was getting a real sense of all three men as I read the whole play. After work I'll study the sides, as opposed to going to the gym, which I have again slacked off as of lately. Then, tonight, round one of auditions.


U.D. LAW DRAMATIC IMPROV GIG:

Also began focused study on the scenario, facts, and directorial suggestions for the gig. It happens tomorrow and Thursday. Tomorrow we actors meet with the students for the initial interview. Thursday we meet again and they provide us with legal counsel.


ANOTHER DV MOVIE PROJECT FOR THE GUILD:

I was approached to shoot footage of set building to post at the Guild YouTube page, which at the moment has nothing, since the trailers were all pulled. Might be a great tie-in to our standard begs for volunteers.


IMPROV NARRATIVE LONG-FORM DV MOVIE SHORTS PROJECT:

A bit more pre-production ground has been gained and I am hoping to shoot on Nov 1 or 2, or both, as well as at least one more weekend in November and at least one in December. We do need a second camera man, and could probably use an assistant director, or at least a production assiatant or two, maybe a grip and/or a gaffer, too.



Tue, Oct 21, 2008

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FIRST NIGHT OF CATFISH MOON AUDITIONS:

Lots of men showed up and several good women showed up. Lots of good auditions. Between a good count of good reads and the mix and match of actors that will work together, it's almost anybody's ball game. I'll be back tonight to throw another pitch and swing another bat -- or, to cast another baited hook might be a better metaphor.


U.D. LAW DRAMATIC IMPROV GIG:

So I'm now off to a full day of interview sessions, playing the client to law students' roles as the associate at a law firm.



Wed Oct 22, 2008

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SECOND NIGHT OF CATFISH MOON AUDITIONS:

I cast the hook; I hit the ball; I pitched the next ball; I gave it my best shot.

I think I did okay. It all felt okay. It seemed to me as if I was giving the characters' their due, that I was understanding them and their agendas, or motivations, or whatever you want to call it. Actually, I read one scene as the character Gordon, and I didn't feel like I played into him at all.

We will see what the outcome will be. I have no clue, which means I prepare to not be cast.


U.D. LAW DRAMATIC IMPROV GIG:

First half down.

I was looking for the students (the lawyers) to give me reasons to go off on them. Little really came up. Tomorrow, when they come back with their legal advice, I will likely have plenty of opportunities. My character knows exactly what he wants to hear and anything else will not make him happy, whatsoever.


IMPROV MOVIE VIGNETTES:

I am starting to try and corral some talent. So far there's not been much response. Actually, as I key this sentence, no actor has responded "yay" or "nay" to the formal email proposal, including those who had expressed at least some level of interest when I initially suggested the project to them.

Well, for one thing, not everyone is as obsessed with checking their email as I am. Some may be considering before they reply. A few might be blowing me off. Since I'm not getting elaborate with the production process I am not going through the steps of audition -- since I am not wholly sure how exactly to audition for improv, anyway, and shall wait until I, I hope, have the valuable guidance of one who has great expertise in that realm. I have been approaching people whom I know have greater interest and at least some experience at improv acting. Unfortunately, based on some recent information, I think at least two of the actors I have invited will be out of town for most or all of the projected shoot dates.

I've also approached a couple people about crewing and one has whole-heartedly agreed. He's a student on campus who will still be in class at the start so probably can't crew all the shoots, but he can some. We also need that second camera operator. Fred has two cameras and the point is to have them both rolling on the same action; and cloning Fred is probably prohibitive to the broken, rotted, frayed shoe string budget of the project. Our student may be good for at least some time on camera. Plus Fred is trying to get hold of an operator he knows, and I have emailed another WSU person, who's been involved with a few video and movie projects, both for his job and at least one 48 Hour film, and I think maybe more than one.

I also have been a little too light on the invites to lady actors, only because I'm not sure of many who are interested or experienced. Actually, there's one young lady, whom I saw both Monday and last night at Catfish Moon auditions, who is one of the best actors I've seen on stage in Dayton, and I think would be very photogenic. She also is so quick to grasp a character in a cold reading that I know she'd be good at improv. But she's already told me she is not at all enthused nor interested in camera work -- 'cause you can bet the film maker in me eyed her immediately. But I really need to try and increase the pool of ladies to entice into this project.

Despite that at the moment I have no cast and only the hint of a crew, I still hope to shoot on November 1 or 2. Hey, that's a whole ten days from now. A lot might happen,

    maybe,

      possibly.


Thu Oct 23, 2008

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AND IT'S ON TO THE NEXT AUDITION

Whether I gave the Catfish Moon characters' their due or understood them and their agendas is a moot point now.

Not sure what I audition for next.


U.D. LAW DRAMATIC IMPROV GIG: Heading out to the second half, the counseling portion of the gig, here in a few. Really hope at least some the lawyers (the students) give my character, Mark, the opportunity to be a difficult client by giving him bad news, by telling him something he doesn't want to hear.


IMPROV MOVIE PROJECT:

No replies yet from actors.


TONIGHT, "THE SCOTTISH PLAY":

Going to see Macbeth at Sinclair Community College tonight. Brian McKnight is the director, and I am aware of at least one actor I know who's in it: Chuck Larkowski, who is, as he puts it, "the DOG (designated old guy)," i.e.: Duncan/Porter/Doctor.

Seeing the cast list on-line I recognize three more names: James Roselli, Lauren Deaton and Jeremy Cleary. Jeremy's mother is Kathleen, head of the Sinclair CC Theatre department and a fellow supporting actor in Still Me. I believe Kathleen told me during the Still Me shoot that he's already, at quite a young age, racked up a pretty long actor's résumé, many of the credits for paying gigs. I remember he was the kid in The Nerd a couple years back at the Human Race.


CHECK THIS OUT:

Most of the actors and film makers out there (most meaning: 99.something %) will not be impressed much by this. But for me it is a little hallmark of progress -- forward is forward, even if it's just an insignificant inch or two as opposed to a thousand-fifty miles.

I now have a legitimate IMDb page: www.imdb.com/name/nm3162667.

Now, I know a few local actors who have a page, too, and some with a good list of credits. But, hey, the page with twenty-five movie credits had to start with only one title listed. I am looking forward to when I have many multiple actor, director and producer credits on mine.



Fri Oct 24, 2008

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U.D. LAW DRAMATIC IMPROV GIG:

So I did get some chance to let my character, Mark, get upset. One of the students, in fact, got very flustered and intimidated to the point that I felt for him. I know that this is a learning exercise for the students, and they most certainly must learn to deal with difficult clients, but man, I wanted to break character and give the guy some reassurance. I felt a tinge of guilt even though I was doing what I was supposed to. In fact, we had been instructed to go after any of the students we had who took the particular stance he was taking.

It's much easier to play angry with another actor who's on board with you, especially if it's from a script, than it is to go after a student who is getting caught up in the moment with you and feels backed into a corner and isn't sure how to get out. I know it can be seized by this fellow as a valuable experience to learn from, and hope he does so. But man did I feel bad for the guy.


IMPROV MOVIE PROJECT:

Two email responses and one verbal response. All actors have an interest but have to get back with me. Saw a couple actors last evening at Macbeth who may be interested and I emailed them the info when I got home.


FUTURE MOVIE PROJECTS:

Since I'm not cast in Catfish Moon, I have time to look at a bit of a re-write for that thirty-five minute screenplay that's been in various degrees of in and out of play for the past several years. Although, I don't feel urgency to cut it down or to expand it, that I had felt until recently. It's not an issue of length now as much as it is some possible alterations for the protagonist. Since the inception he's been Scottish, and it's never been necessary that he be so -- and I'm no longer as locked into it as I once was. To begin, he was Scottish because I wrote the part for me, and I wanted to take a shot at him that way. I was counseled almost from the start to consider not acting and directing the movie and I am more inclined toward that advice now than I was, too. And it simplifies things, regardless of who is on the role, if he's not Scottish. So, that is a probable element of any re-write.

Too, I think I want to delve into a screenplay for another of my own short stories, "A New Role For Herald," which has been posted at The WriteGallery for almost nine and a half years. It would be a short movie that would need a pretty big budget (at least relatively speaking) to bring off well. It's a sci0-fi story that calls for a certain amount of post-production effects as well as, for at least one segment, convincing representation of international exotic locations. But it's also a great script for me as an actor -- I could play Herald (that's a purposeful spelling, by the way) without it being a stretch, whatsoever. Though I would have to amend his age a little.

And I have at least one other short story by me that could be a good screenplay. As well as, there's a longer one, about 14 thousand words and forty-five double-spaced manuscript pages. That one would move into the realm of a feature length and I am not so sure the screenplay would be adapted as much as it would be based on or inspired by. But that one would be a major undertaking to turn into a screenplay and a far more costly and production heavy movie to make, just because it would be feature length.

And there is still that short story by another author at WG that I'd love to option and adapt myself, as well as potential other stories by other authors.


"THE SCOTTISH PLAY" AT SINCLAIR CC:

Saw Macbeth last night at Sinclair Community College. Here's a big DOH! for ya. I looked at the cast list the other day and did not see that Amy Hamilton is in the cast. She was one of the many bright spots about The Dice House in 2007. So, there are four actors that I know, or know of, in this cast. And I found that they all had some really good moments on stage.

Director Brian McKnight had some interesting use of flashlights in the production. It was more-or-less like, but not exactly like, those moody investigation scenes in the original CSI where the lights at the crime scene are never turned on and there's always a little fog in the room for the flashlight beams to infiltrate. It's always been a stylized effect, very removed from verisimilitude, on CSI that I have always forgiven them for -- along with none of the women investigators ever putting their hair up or back while at an active crime scene. In the play the flashlights were much less in need of forgiveness.



Mon, Oct 27, 2008

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IMPROV MOVIE VIGNETTES:

Still have not really had much initial response from the actors I've emailed about this. Actually, I'd mentioned the idea to a few of them verbally first, and some of those have not responded to the email, yet. I credit several things. Some are simply not interested; some may have spam filters that tagged the email -- though I did not send a mass mailing and each message was a sole email send; some have not made up their minds, yet; some haven't yet read the email.

There will be a production meeting, of a sort, this coming Saturday. I, the DP, and whomever else either of us can get there will at least discuss a game plan and do some screen tests. We will get an initial idea of how we want to shoot and what we may need that we don't have.

I'd like to have at least a couple actors as subjects for the lens. And if we can actually shoot some viable footage, we might as well do so.

Meanwhile, I have the beginning of a few ideas about how to approach material and will spend the week brainstorming concepts, scenarios and possible character profiles.

Some of the profiles, I may model after those created for the U.D. School of Law guided improv gigs. There, as you may know from reading about them here, the name, some vital facts, a situation and the goals & agenda of the character are given to the actor. Not sure I will always, if ever, get as thorough with those for my project as the U.D. gigs do, but I might write up a stock pile after the fashion of the U.D. examples.

Guides that focus on the situation and the conflict, leaving the characters mostly or completely up to the actors, will prove interesting, too. It may be that a lot of this pre-fab material is on hand in case we aren't coming up with ideas on the spot at the shoots. But I bet I create scenarios of which I decide I must get on screen.



Thu Oct 30, 2008

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IMPROV MOVIE VIGNETTES:

We are doing some screen test work this Saturday and have a call for talent at 12:30. The crew will be there at 10 a.m. The day should be wrapped by 4:00 or 5:00 at the very latest, and maybe much earlier, depending on how many actors are there and whether we get to any full-out improv riffs. At the moment I donít know if any actors can make it this Saturday. The day is really about screen testing the lighting and such so the pressure will be off any actors who can show up, more so than it will be for the rest of the shoot -- but even then itís all a low pressure venture for the actors. Their involvement Saturday is more about how we need bodies to put in front of the lens more than anything else. But it will be a good warm up session for any actor who can make it, And if we get good takes, we're keeping them, of course.

The crew, by the way, is four at the moment. I'd love to have an AD, but I need to find someone who can make all the productions days.

As indicated before, in terms of the overall production, as we shoot this fall/winter we'll be riffing on ideas and such to see where they go. Being funny isn't the penultimate goal. It's not frowned upon, of course, but I am more interested in drama, even if it's lighter. But a good funny vignette is welcomed, too, if it works out that way. And we may regroup on any given take or segment. There is a very great chance that we will adjust and re-shoot portions of a given riff. The second half of the magic will be in the editing process. And the pressures off everyone, because this whole project is all experiment this fall/winter; the entire exercise is mostly me and the DP, Fred Boomer, testing how to shoot this stuff for a more "formal" or perhaps "structured" improv project later. Though, as I have said, any good footage we get from any production day here in November and December is fair game for use.

What I hope is a good thing for this current project is that each actor does not have to commit to more than one production day, or even less if that's all he or she can give. And If all one can do is this more experimental shoot this fall/winter, that's fine. There is no inherent assumption that association with this experiment. Not to suggest I would not welcome an actor to be there for most of these upcoming shoots, or maybe all. But there is lots of flexibility that I hope helps getting commitments.

I have received a certain amount of positive responses from actors who are on board. Others still have not responded at all. I have ten names right now, though the participation of most depends on the jibing of schedules. I hope to have a tentative (75-90% concrete) production schedule, perhaps tonight, which will help.

The last several days I have been doing a bit of brain storming on scenarios, situations, phrases, characters, all which may spark some improvisational moments. As previously indicated, some of the scenarios will be much like, and in some cases, exactly like, the U.D. Law gigs. Our "guidance" will not always be as structured or perhaps as detailed. Invoking based on a word or phrase is, on the other hand, quite removed from the structured guidance of those law gigs. I also have every intention of welcoming impromptu ideas from cast and crew, on the spot.

Moving from director/producer into the "executive" producer realm, I got a signature loan for $300 to cover feeding everyone during the shoots as well as some small amount of other productions needs, whatever those may turn out to be. Actually, since they consolidated this new loan with my previously running sig loan (for auto repairs), I was technically credited with $301.71, they loaned me enough to pay off my pervious balance and make the new balance an even $500. Not that you would care about the minutia of detail. Point is I have borrowed 300 bucks to help with the current project.

Not that I am writing checks to participants this round. The proposition I forwarded is that at this point this is not a commercial venture. Down the road, I hope it will be. I do know that the ultimate improv production will at least be available on-line (YouTube and probably a dedicated web site with them as pod casts). This present experiment is fair game for that, if we get any footage we like enough. Whether or not there is any income attached to any of this is a pretty tenuous concept. Probably mostly because I have no real business sense, whatsoever.

That said, this fall/winter work is not a paying gig, but if it does get marketed, I am going to cut all involved in. I wouldn't count on any of us getting rich off of it. And I wouldn't wager the odds of it being marketed, to begin with. But if we mine any gold, we might as well take it to the claims office.



Sat Nov 1, 2008

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IMPROV MOVIE VIGNETTES:

7:56 a.m. -- I am off in a few minutes to Day I of the production.

Stay tuned.....



Mon, Nov 3, 2008

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IMPROV MOVIE VIGNETTES: FIRST PRODUCTION WEEKEND --
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 51, THROUGH SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 4008

Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts in the improvisational vignette shot as the test shoot, Saturday, Novemeber 1, 2008.

Duante Beddingfield and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Craig had to slate the shot since there was no
assistant director and all the production people
were behind the bar.
setting up for the the test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Setting up for the shoot
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
The same shoot as right above, this time from Camera B.
setting up for the the test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
setting up for the the test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield and Brett Taylor on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Note previous picture above. This is another example of the same moment of acting caught from the two-camera shot set-up.
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING
Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Craig Roberts on screen in test shoot vignette for the improv movie project, workshop title - BAR FLYING

All in all I am pleased with Test Shoot Day. We learned a few things and actually ended up with a pretty decent vignette on tape.

As shown above and to the right, the actors who were there were Duante Beddingfield, Craig Roberts and Brett Taylor. Duante, of course, I have now worked with a couple times (Playing God and The Best Man); Craig, a few times (The Cripple of Inishmaan, Proposals, The Diviners, and The Beard of Avon); Brett, I just met, as he was another of we who auditioned for, but were not cast in, Catfish Moon.

Unless I am remembering wrongly, I don't think I have completely spelled out the concept, as it is, of this improv project. The long and the short of it is that I want to produce a series of short DV improv movies. These November and December shoots are production experiments, where I and Fred Boomer (the Director of Photography, as you may know) will discover more fully how we want to shoot and produce a more structured production, later.

The only things I know absolutely are that we are shooting the action two-camera and that many of the segments will be guided beyond simply a set up of the situation, like I have previously indicated or at least suggested. The ending plot result, or the ending emotional state of at least one character, may be a stated goal at the start. And I am sure now that in some cases I am, as I know I have said, going to be far more detailed and specific about character, situation, conflict and the emotion goals of the vignette in the guidance I give the talent.

It probably goes without saying, but, this will be true narrative improv here, not Whose Line Is It, Anyway gag improv. I have a concept (a general, macro concept anyway) for this exercise. It's truly an idea of convenience. The project's workshop title is Bar Flying and we are using the bar and restaurant in the basement of the new Guild building on Wayne Avenue. As well, other parts of the building will be used.

Right now there is no over-arch, except that the bar is playing a central theme. This open enough as an exercise concept, however, that such may change before we are done. The beauty of it is that no actor needs to commit to all the production days. Since we are doing vignettes, since we are very open about what the over-arch is, one ever develops, we can adjust and accommodate. There may be the possibility of pick-ups being shot later for some segments, but, that's open; and we have a location that we know we can get back into.

At this point, Bar Flying still is not a commercial venture. Down the road, maybe it will become one. Bar Flying is certainly intended to be at least available on-line. It is not a paying gig, but if it would get marketed, I certainly still think I should cut all involved in. You can't use people's good services for free then turn a buck from that help. Yeah, but ultimately I still wouldn't wager the odds of Bar Flying being marketed.

There is a clear level of uncertainty connected to the whole project. To show up at the shoot with no script, no shooting script, just sketches of what can and might be done, has a level of anxiety attached to it. Our test shoot day has proven to alleviate the intensity of this for me, though. My three actors gave me a really good riff that we pulled out of the air just a few minutes before the camera rolled. The result wasn't absolutely brilliant stuff, but it was good work that was light years from "sucking." That's a good sign.

Here's the account of the first production weekend:

Friday, October 31, 2008

3:30 pm

      Dropped into Meijer and grabbed some snack foods and bottled water for the cast and crew. After that, it was off to Best Buy for a six pack of mini DV tape cassettes. I also dropped by Lowe's to price a few things that I may end up needing for the production, namely, half-inch, four-foot by eight-foot foam sheets and painting supplies.

At this point, including a lunch meeting with Fred Boomer two weeks earlier, the production is at $93.33 in expense debts.

evening

      Did some administrative work. Tailored then printed actors' release forms for the production. Looked at the November and December calendar, then created and printed an availability form for each crew and cast person to fill out. Created a shoot log for the production.

Packed my car, save for a few more valuable items that were not going to sit in my car, outside, overnight.

This is important: I had borrowed a three chip DV camcorder from campus. Right before I went to bed, I plugged the AC power unit in and fixed the battery in the recharging slot.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

8:00-ish am

      A little while after I posted the short Saturday morning blog entry, I finished packing my car (adding the valuable stuff: sound equipment, my slate board, items like such), then made a stop at IGA for the last of the, let's call it "craft service" things : napkins, plastic plates and ice for the cooler of bottled water.

8:45-ish am

      Arrived at the Guild's Salem theatre to pick up a few set pieces and properties, as well as the coffee maker. I thought I needed a few 30" tall bar stools. I also thought about grabbing one small table, but there was not enough room in my car. Borrowed a few liquor bottles, too.

9:30-ish am

      Pulled into the Wayne location, where Fred was waiting for me. We unloaded and began to set up. We can both add "grip" to our credits on the roll. Of course, that's always the way it is on a shoe-string indy production.

10:00 am

      As per the crew call, Chris Tung arrived. And then there were three. Chris is the new student in the Wright State University Motion Picture Production Program, whom is my first official networking connection through My Space that has born productivity, Like the rest of us, he gripped, but he also ended up as second camera operator.

* -- Sorry no good photo from the day available of Chris. But that is him behind the bar in the second behind-the-scenes set pic.

10:45-ish am

      A friend of Fred's, Greg Forsthaefel* came and served primarily as sound engineer, but also gave other production help, especially in terms of identifying sight line and light bleed problems.

* -- Not sure I have spelled his last name correctly. And again, no good pic of him from the day, just like Chris; and FRED, for that matter.

12:30 pm

      Actually, a little earlier than that, Brett showed for the 12:30 cast call. Duante was close to exactly on time. Craig was not far behind.

1:00-ish pm

      I have several scenarios more or less worked out, none of which I wanted to use for this riff for the test shoot. I had also done a strange little game with my Word thesaurus to grab a long-ass list of words. from there I put together a page of phrases, cobbled and free associated. The page of phrases was my intended well for whatever we would do for the test. So, of course, I left that at home.

So after a little discussion I looked at Brett and said. "Okay, Brett. Who's your character?"

He thought for a second then said, "I'm a traveler."

"Which means what?" I asked, "You a seeker, a salesman?"

He decided on a scout for a hotel chain who travels looking for real estate to build new hotels on. He's lonely and seeking something.

Based on few other things Brett came to decide -- some with my guidance -- I made Duante a preacher, because I saw the chance for a good dichotomy between the two characters. It was also based on an observation Duante had made when he arrived, about his previous evening. I won't elaborate but it did have to do with Halloween and a Priest costume.

Craig decided to be the drunk college student. I took the role, of screen, well mostly off screen, of the bar tender. the really interesting thing is that most of us were named by someone else. Craig named me Gip; I named him Bart -- (though at least once I called him Brett during the riff); I also named Daunte: Marcus. Brett named himself: Frank.

Like I said it was not the most brilliant improvisational scene to ever be created, but it was not at all horrible. There was a beginning, a middle and a resolution. And the guys all gave me some good, spontaneous performances. I was probably the weakest, but I was not really trying hard. I was focusing on being director. I was off screen save for my hands on occasion when I poured a drink.

Actually, Fred panned back onto me at one point when my character, Gip, was taking some action that was more directly involved in the scene. And I had a couple of occasions to move by the front of each lens. But mostly I was off screen. Fred suggested some pick-ups of me at the bar, but really, the whole point was to test shoot to discover problems and what we will need that I had not thought of nor anticipated. That had already been accomplished in spades. And We would have had to readjust the lights a bit. I didn't want to bother with it. Though some cut-away shots would add variety to what we have.

The scene ran twenty-two minutes. It could stand to be trimmed, but I'm not sure I would want to edit it down to under ten minutes. That's the maximum length it can be on a standard account at YouTube account.

I think it's a relatively interesting scene, but it is certainly into "talking heads" territory. The cut-aways of me would have helped, but I really don't think they would save it from this element.

1:45-ish pm

      The day was pretty much wrapped and we were watching the rushes. *Rushes: "The first positive prints made from the negatives photographed on the previous day. During filming, the director and some actors may view these dailies as an indication of how the filming and the actors' performances are progressing." -- from IMDb Movie Terminology Glossary. In this case though, the rushes, or "dailies" are not "first positive prints made from the negatives photographed on the previous day," but rather simply the roll back of the tape to the beginning of what has just been shot.

By 2:30-2:45 Fred and I were both packed. I then took the coffee pot back to the Salem Avenue theatre and was home eating dinner by 5:30. By 7:30 I was dumping the digital signals from the tapes onto the hard drive of my ancient Mac tower. Because I only have a 400 mghz processor I was not able to create files of the whole twenty-two minute take as one file. My computer would freeze. So I broke each of the camera takes into seven separate files.

I backed up a few seconds on each file so there is a little bit of action duplicated from the end of one onto the beginning of the next. I also made sure the comparable action from the second camera did not match up precisely on the same numbered files. For instance, the first file from camera A starts at the start of the scene and goes to about 4:00 into the scene. The first file for camera B, also starts at the start of the scene, but I only took it to about 2:00 in. So I have a staggering of the progression of action on the files from A compared to B. The reason is so I have different runs of continuous action on the files from A to B. In the editing process that will make a big difference. Truthfully, I'd have rather had two 22:00 files, but that was not going to happen.

By the way, I used the DV camcorder I had borrow from campus to dump the footage -- Fred seemed to want to take his expensive cameras with him for some reason. Now, this was one of the reasons I had borrowed the DV camera, to transfer the footage onto my hard drive. I had also intended to shoot some behind the scenes footage during the production day. But, remember that battery I had plugged into the AC power unit, to charge overnight? Well, I left all that at the apartment so I had no power to run the thing during the day!

Sunday, I looked at the footage some. It looks pretty good. We only recorded sound through a mixer for camera A. I notice the volume is a bit lower, but the quality is a little better than on B. There are lines lost on each roll, too. I don't think any of the same ones for both, which is good. I may actually, if I need to, plug the audio for a given line from one roll to the other, more or less doing the same thing as ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement -- AKA: Looping), at least as far as the editing room and the end result.

I actually did the same thing in the editing for The Chorus for Candice. I liked one particular performance by Kim Reiter in one take but preferred her emphasis on a particular word from another take. So I used just that one word from the audio track of the take not used. In that particular case, since I was fitting a word into a sentence, it took me about forty-five minutes to edit it in. I had to precisely trim the vowel sounding to make the word the exact length as the version it was replacing. It was a challenge to get an edit that did not call attention to itself by sounding unnatural or different in quality from the rest of her voice in the sentence.

Yes, I am pleased with our test shoot. We learned a lot. I was hot to shoot next Saturday, Nov 8, but that is going to be the "Art Department" day. The restaurant is a nice location, but the mirrors everywhere are a bit of a problem for lights and for sight line for the lens. So I am going to be faking out some walls and such to mask a lot of mirrors, using the trusty 4x8 foam sheets.

Room off old weight room
Peaking into the room I want to use as a jail cell, from the long white room. Eventually my "jail cell" is likely to become a dressing room. The long white room is planned as the makeup room.
Room off old weight room
Closer view of the "jail cell."
I also have a story idea that involves a jail cell and I see the perfect room for that -- okay, I saw the room first, then got the idea. But it's a white room right now, which will not work for several reasons. A white jail cell doesn't work for me, and white walls, in general, don't work for the camera lens. So, I'm going to ask permission to paint the walls in the room, probably gray, maybe brown. I am referring to the little room that's next to the single bathroom and shower, off the long white room, just behind the bar area. *See right.

Anyway, that's how I am spending Saturday, the 8th, and perhaps Sunday, the 9th. My goal now is to have a shoot on Saturday the 15th and Sunday the 16th. As soon as I have confirmed that with Fred (Director of Photography) and also am sure some of the talent will be able to make it. I want a solid schedule soon, but I will wait until cast and crew, as a whole, have an idea what's good (and more importantly, what's bad) for them.

In the meantime I will be doing more brainstorming on more focused and solid scenarios and such. When I know in advance particular people will be making a shoot, I will get the material to them to look over. For the most part I'm not concerned that the actors totally commit the material to memory, in most cases. We will just have to be sure everyone in a scene is on the same page when/if that is necessary in a given vignette.


PRODUCING THEATRE:

I'm a little more than half-way through the reading of Glen Merzer's The Cashier. As producer I'm attending to set piece, prop and sound design needs. As an actor I am looking at characters that I could fit into and may be interested in. Honestly, I see only one.

Otherwise, as an actor, I am not sure what's next. But my eyes and ears are open. I do have some options down the road a few months.


And for those of you, eighteen and older, who are citizens of the United States of America:

VOTE - It's Your Right!



Tuesday, November 4, 2008 -- ELECTION DAY

OCT-DEC, 2003
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I Voted Today!

How About You?



Wed Nov 5, 2008

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FIRST OF ALL:

John Lennon wrote, in one of the posthumous releases of his work, "You wanna save humanity, but it's people that you just can't stand." I freely admit that I often am a cynic when it comes to the hearts and minds of my fellow human beings. Thus, I am one of those many many many people surprised a "man of color" actually has been elected president of the United States. Yes, I am a cynic on these sorts of issues and I have been convinced there was far more covert, subtle racism in the hearts of a lot of white Americans than the results of the election bear out. My position was that at least we have come to the point that an African American can become a serious contender for the presidency. Still, I was sure President-elect Obama would have to run at least once more if not twice more before enough of the nation would be comfortable enough with the idea of a black president to place him in The White House.

As many of you do, I remember watching his speech in '04 at the Democratic National Convention and thinking, as many did, This guy is going to run for president someday. The pessimist in my head would have never contemplated him making the acceptance speech at midnight, November 4, 2008.

I am amazed and I'm also miraculously inspirited to find I have underestimated my fellow citizens.

BAR FLYING:

"Art Department" Day is still on for this coming Saturday and maybe Sunday. I'll be shopping Friday for 4x8 foam sheets, paint, and probably table cloths. Meanwhile shoots on Sat & Sun of the next weekend look probable (in the high 90's percentile). I'd like it to be both days but it may just be Saturday. Starting to get some idea of when people can be on hand for the potential dates.

I'm also beginning to formulate some character profiles for the actors. I decided I want each actor to play the same role across vignettes. The roles Brett, Craig and Duante played in the test shoot vignette don't necessarily apply. But from the fifteenth forward, the actors will be a certain character and keep that role if they do more than one vignette. What I aim for is a group of captivating characters who will be intriguing to watch interact with each other and then place them in interesting situations, sometimes with clearly stated and concrete agendas given to the actors by their director, sometimes with only a vague wisp of a goal provided.

And I don't mind admitting that when I ponder the mission to achieve this goal I hear a little voice in my head asking, "How the £µ¢% you gonna pull THIS off?"

I am going to be sure they get their profiles and scenarios ahead of time so they will have time to form an idea of who they are, yadda yadda.


MISCELLANY:

  1. See yest erday's entry.
  2. Who's that -- actually in the gym. . . . working out ?!?
    Yep, my on-again/off-again is On Again. Going after those Matthew McConaughey-esq abs. Should have them any day now. Oh, I didn't mean any day soon. No, I meant "any day" as in "some day," out there, somewhere, maybe.
  3. Fred Boomer and I will drop by the set of The Cover of Life this Thursday. Fred, who's been a photographer for more than thirty years, will take the portrait of the ladies that I will mock up as the "cover of Life magazine," (get it?). He'll also shoot several publicity pics and I think one more single shot of one actor, for use in the show.
  4. I finished my first reading of Glen Merzer's The Cashier and have noted some set piece and property needs. I am still contemplating auditioning for the show, and still really only see one role that I think I would work in. Have to read it a couple more times as both producer and as a potential auditioner.

    Next it's reading Fuddy Meers by David Lindsay-Abaire, first, as the producer of that and then maybe to audition. Don't know about the audition part yet because I haven't read it.

  5. And there are a couple auditions coming up sooner that I may be going after.
  6. I've also caught wind of a local production of a webisodic show that may be auditioning sometime soon. I know hardly no details. except that at least one of the producers graduated from the Wright State University Motion Picture Production Program. But it certainly may be an opportunity.
  7. Meanwhile, I am still waiting for submissions of art to illustrate the virtual chapbook The Motion in Motive at The WriteGallery Creative Writing Web Site.

    Click here for guidelines.



Thu Nov 6, 2008

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BAR FLYING:

The shoots are on for Sat/Sun, Nov 15/16. So I am charged to have the genesis foundations for the actors to work from. Sometimes it takes some heavy romancing to seduce the muse into cuddling up to you. That or some patience. A lot of that staring at a blank page (or document on the screen) has been occurring, after an initial brain storming episode. That episode had really only brought up viable jumping off places, or pathways to jumping off places. No sizzling notions sparked.

Last night I did start getting some good sense of a idea and direction. mostly based on starting to form some ideas about the characters I am creating for the actors -- though I am only in the first phase of that. A problem presented itself, one that is part and parcel to a recurring theme for me. My creative juices starting bubbling in earnest at about 10:30 last night. Before I knew it, it was 11:45, and I have to be at work at 7 a.m. I was hot for another good two hours of creative work on these improv guides, but I had to reluctantly, begrudgingly stop the productive session and go to bed.

The paycheck job gets in the way again. It's difficult for me to sometimes remember its critical, survival-level importance to my existence.

This particular inconvenience aside, at least I have a concept formulating in my mind.

Meanwhile, four actors can make the Nov 15-16 shoots, and I anticipate at least one more will be good for at least the Saturday shoot.

Dart room I am contemplating moving things slightly out of the bar area for what's cooking in my head for the 15th. We may go into the area right behind the bar, a room I've been calling "the dart room," only because it has a dart board on the wall, left from the Dayton Gym Club occupation of the place.

Still doing "art department" this coming weekend. The little room as a jail cell or a similar place is still uppermost in my plans; I am not finished with the bar area at all, either. So, I still need to create fake walls to mask all the friggin' mirrors in the place.

Still going shopping for "art department" supplies tomorrow night. Then, since I have to be in Dayton tonight anyway for a Guild related activity. I believe I'll drop by the Wayne building and get some measurements. Hope to be able to book a DV camera to shoot some behind-the-scenes footage of my art work, this weekend.


TECHING THE COVER OF LIFE:

Fred Boomer and I are still dropping by the set of The Cover of Life to take the photo portrait of the ladies, which I will then mock up as the front cover of Life magazine," as well as getting the one other production photo and the publicity shots.



Sat Nov 8, 2008

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The once white room is now gray
That little, once white room, for which I have production plans. shown here, paint wet, and only moments after I had finished painting the floor gray. Tomorrow I'll finish off any spot work, as I am back to do other art department work.


BAR FLYING ART DEPARTMENT WORK:

I was at the Guild's Wayne Avenue building most of today, painting that white room gray. I'll be back to journal the day. Right now I need to concentrate on the improv set-ups for my actors.

Plus I'm tired and don't want to fool much with the blog. I'd really like to go to bed right now, but I have a date with a muse.



Sun, Nov 9, 2008

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Room off old weight room
BEFORE
The finished gray room
AFTER

BAR FLYING ART DEPARTMENT WORK:

Same deal as yesterday. I was on site all day, today. I finished off the gray room and started on the white foam sheets turning them into brown wall segments. The job isn't done and I'll work most of the day Tuesday. Might work tomorrow night, too, but that's not a solid probability.

And, again, I'll journal the whole weekend later. Right now I'm still dancing the ritual dance to win that effervescent tryst with my muse.



Tue, Nov 11, 2008

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first. . .

Here's to our Veterans --
active, retired, and
no longer with us.

They've rarely picked and chosen when to take up arms. They've gotten the call and did their duty with honor and grace. And our citadels are in tact because of their sacrifices.




Paint supplies already there
Crap I didn't need to buy
Tables, boards, and wieghts to flatten the foam sheets out
K.L.Storer preps to paint
Getting ready to paint a white room gray.
Painting it Gray
"I see a white room and I want to paint it gray"
BAR FLYING:

Before I recount the art department weekend I will report that I and my muse finally had a very nice little tango together and I have created guide posts to what I hope can be a nice little shoot on Saturday, one that can be built on from there. Rather than being in the bar, the scene will take place in a pizza restaurant, in the area I've already indicated I want to shoot in Saturday, and maybe Sunday.

Five actors have been emailed what I think are some interesting profiles with some opportunities for interesting intermingling, conflicts and emotional responses to each other. If I did my job, I have a group of actors who can do theirs.

As for "Art Department" weekend, I didn't shop for production supplies last Friday night as I'd planned. I didn't feel well so I stayed home, took it easy, watched a little TV (maybe a little too much) and worked some on that brain storming the characters and scenarios, though I made little progress, then.

The goal for Saturday was to get to the Wayne building at 9 a.m., but as I told Chris Tung, "it'll probably be 10 a.m. and maybe 11 a.m." As it turned out, I was unloading my car at the site just about 9:30 Saturday morning. And I did the shopping that morning: six 4x8 white foam sheets, a gallon of dark gray and a gallon of brown paint, one brush, one roller, one roller extension pole, a paint tray, a four-pack of roller covers. A total of $135.11, so far, for the day.

After arriving at Wayne and doing a little search in a utility area for tools, I discovered a roller and a paint tray, which could have saved me six bucks. Well, I plan on giving whatever is left over to the Guild when I'm done, anyway, including the 4x8 foam sheets. I figure it as rent payment for use of the facility on Wayne.

The first big adventure of the day happened before I got to Dayton. It was in the parking lot of Lowe's in Fairborn, Ohio. The moment, almost the very second, I walked out the door with six four-foot by eight-foot sheets of foam in my hands, the wind started picking up, and I thought I would possibly take flight. Then, when I got to my car, to my Ford Probe, it became clear I had miscalculated the ability of my vehicle to transport six 4x8 sheets of foam insulation. I'd done a quick measurement, and clearly a hasty and sloppy measurement, that told me I could angle the sheets and fit them in, even if a few feet of the long end hung out the back of the car. I was wrong, even in a windless environment, where the elements weren't making my attempts a slapstick routine, the law of physics were ruling the back portion of my hatchback to be narrower than the four feet I needed.

Fortunately, the foam was pliable enough I was able to fold each sheet over on itself and fit all six in the back of my Probe's cabin. Unfortunately, I didn't think to snap a picture -- it would have been a good one. Now, polyethylene foam is a material with elastic memory, so after I had unloaded the sheets at the site, I found, as I suspected I would, that they did not want to lie flat. I had to lay them on top of each other, then turn a couple heavy tables upside down and lay on top of the stack and add a flat board with weights on it to all that. I let them lie for more than twenty-four hours like that to flatten them back out. So, Saturday was forced to become the paint a white room gray day. And I did that, with one dinner break, until about 6 p.m. Actually, now that I think about it, I also had to go out and buy another can of gray paint; it took more than I'd thought it would. I bought my lunch on the way back. The second can brought the day's total to $159.70 and the productions whole total to $260.55; I have $54.35 of the signature loan left.

Sunday I finished off the gray room, which, instead of being a jail cell, I think will be the visitation room at a penitentiary. I haven't fleshed that scenario out yet, but it likely will involved some of the characters (actors) that are shot this coming weekend. Then I peeled the plastic from the sheets, and painted them a base dark brown. I kept five of the six sheets as 4x8. One I trimmed down and angled to fit around one of the mirrored pillars in the bar area. Today I will texture and highlight all of them, then place them in the bar area. They are all to mask mirrors, ether on the pillar or on the walls.

That fifty-four bucks will be challenged since the Saturday shoot is a scene at a pizza place and there will be pizza in the scene. plus, I need table cloths, which I haven't found -- I'll buy dollar store crap, but it's still a debit.

Also, concerning the shoot day, I think for various reasons I may occasionally interrupt the riffing, stop shooting, as we go along. For one thing, I may seize an opportunity to get pick-ups on a particular actor, plus it may be an opportunity to adjust the story and certainly to change the shot set ups, if only minutely. I'll let my instincts rule here. If I think it unwise to break the dance, I'll leave it be. If it seems like we could stand to regroup, I will cut.

Peeling the white foam sheets
Peeling the sheets
Painting the white sheet brown
"I see a white sheet and....
Painting the white sheet brown
....I want to paint it brown."
Finished gray room
Fvie brown sheets on the floor
Getting the flattened sheets
Getting the flattened sheets
Painting the white sheet brown on a pillar
Painting the white sheet brown on a pillar
Painting it Gray






Wed Nov 12, 2008

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Basement space at the new DTG that will be the set for Balbino's
The set space for Balboni's Casa di Pizza.
K.L. sticks an 'old-school' cassette into the 'old-school' cassette player
Gotta have some tunes when you're working
K.L. paints highklight onto the brown 4x8 foam sheets
Adding highlights.
K.L. drybrushes the sheet to mute the highlights
Using a dry brush, with the original base brown paint, to mute the highlight design.
Brightly highlighted painted flat verses one that is muted
On the left, the loudly highlighted 4x8 flat; on the right, the muted version.
BAR FLYING:

The Sunday shoot seemed somewhat in jeopardy, but I think it's saved. I already had one actor who could not make it, now I have a second who has cancelled out and a third who has plans to be there but will be, at the very least, late. Both these last two have just been cast this week in a theatre production and have their table read on Sunday. Haven't devised solid plans for what the scenario is for Sunday, anyway, so these developments play right into the concept of going with the flow.

There are two new additions to the cast coming on Saturday. I have plans for these two that will make them marginal in the Saturday shoot. They will be a married couple. The woman is the granddaughter who is now running Balboni's Casa di Pizza. At the Saturday shoot, they will be very much supporting, as the group already set will be the scenario's focus. Saturday it will about establishing them as running Balboni's and checking on their customers. etc. There will be at least one future shoot the will focus this couple, and it could be Sunday.

Not to say that if we wrap the planned scene with the group we might not get to some focused work on the restaurateurs on Saturday, but that's if we don't grab a lot of pick-ups from the dinner scene. I also am thinking that if we shoot something different Saturday with the couple, it would not be on the set we are using for the dining scene -- so there'd be some down time to light the new area. And with either or both of these contingencies, we are most certainly looking at a later wrap for the day.

But here's a thought: this couple (the actual couple) has a business and an office they work out of. I've introduced the possibility of using their actual office, at some point, as the office for Balboni's. All we have to do is come up with a compelling reason to shoot the characters in their office, which I know we can.

As for Art Department work, (NOTICE I'VE THROWN MY LITTLE SELF-INDULGENT PICS TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COLUMN?), it's not totally done for the coming weekend, but it's mostly done. I do have go back Friday evening; and' I'll be doing some shopping on Thursday evening.

Yesterday was a pretty productive day, though. I got the finishing garnishes on all of sheets, including that which will fit around the mirrored pillar in the bar area. For two of the five 4x8 sheets I created a design that's really almost more like a large canvas by an artist -- albeit, I would not suggest the guy to be a terribly brilliant artist. The other three have a, let's say, "less ambitious" design, which is also what I used for the foam sheet I angled to mask the mirrored pillar.

Much of the highlight coloring was far too loud, though, for both designs. So, I used the original base brown to dry-brush over the garnish colors and mute them down. The end result is not the greatest scenic design effort to ever occur, but I guess it'll have to work for me.

When I'd finished the flats, I took some time to assess the area we will shoot in Saturday. This is going to become Balboni's Casa di Pizza, and the setting for a group of friends and family. We'll be using the far left corner of that "dart room." The dart board -- the reason I've dubbed it "dart room." -- will be coming down before Saturday. There's too much of a risk that it will end up in the shot and I don't want to justify Balboni's as a place where there would be a dart board in the dining room.

Meanwhile I grabbed some framed pictures for Balboni's walls from upstairs in the mountain of properties on the first floor of the building; it is good to be shooting in a theatre building. I also set the two little tables I'd used to flatten the foam sheets out last week, in place in Balboni's. They had been part of what we used as background set pieces for the test shoot in the bar area. I have five characters to sit at the table. Those two small tables are not enough. I will have to get a longer one from upstairs. I know which one I'm bringing down; it technically is not what would be in a restaurant, but with a table cloth over it, the camera will assume it is what we suggest it is.

Art Department work isn't done yet, either. Need other set pieces: appropriate chairs, at least one centerpiece for the table (a vase, I am thinking), and, of course, I need the correct table cloth, still. I also need plates and utensils, drinking glasses, some large flat serving pans for the pizza that will be on set -- that's right, this is a shoot with food on the set. And I don't have another writer to blame, the food in the scene is of my own invention.

Tomorrow night I at least shop for the table cloths, if I don't go ahead and either drop by the Salem theatre to find the plates and utensils that will work at Balboni's, or stop by the Wayne building and start putting the set together, or do both. That dart board must come down, as I said. The pictures most go up. The longer table must come downstairs. I should get the 4x8 flats up on the walls in the bar area to mask the mirrors, too. I doubt we're shooting in there this weekend, but it won't hurt to get them up and ready for when their time comes. Regardless of the order of these tasks, Thursday and Friday night I am busy getting pre-production for Saturday ready.

The best news is that all of the actors are comfortable with the character profiles and scenario information I have given them. I was a little worried I had saturated them with too much information. None of them seemed to feel it is a heavy burden, so we shall see what happens. I think there's great potential for something golden to happen. Of course, part of the excitement is that very real risk that the vignette falls flat on its face. I got good people though, so I anticipate something worthwhile being captured this weekend.

Mirrored pillar mask
The foam sheets cut & measured to serve as the mirrored pillar mask, on the sides the camera will see.
K.L. sets out pictures for the walls of the Balbino's set
The area for the Balbino's set


COVER OF LIFE ART WORK:

Right now I'm also in the midst of mocking the Life magazine cover for The Cover of Life. I began a version last night, but I am not happy with it. As soon as I have posted this entry, I will start over.



Mon, Nov 17, 2008

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BAR FLYING

K.L. watching the playback of a scene, direct from the camera LCD monitor screen We had two good shoot days over the weekend. I will be back to journal them. The post will either be tomorrow or Wednesday...


or Thursday...


or Friday.


I have not been able to transfer the three-plus hours of footage to my hard drive, yet. If I can get access to a three-chip camcorder -- to use as my source machine -- I will spend this evening doing that. Then, along with a few still shots I took with my camera, I'll have still frames to post with the journaling text.


VOICE ACTING AUDITION:

Went into the agency this morning to record an audition for a radio spot. I was the first one to be recorded on a new digital recorder. And, there were tech problems. We had to get a tech on the phone to walk us through the problem solving. The problem was never solved. The decision was made to record my voice in video mode -- since we could not get "audio only" to function.

"DOH!"  moment number 162,371: I got the email with the draft script attached on Thursday. There were several script pages and the email said to look at the man and to only review the "60" spot. So I found the 60 second spot that had a woman's dialogue and the VO (Voice Over) dialogue. Being preoccupied with my own project, I did not invest much logic-building in this. I came to the conclusion that "man" and "VO" were the same, read over it a bit and made an appointment for this morning.

As I was sitting there, reading the text, Jim Payne (my agent) seemed to be puzzled and getting more so the further I read. Turns out there was another "60 spot" with "Man" and "VO," which was the copy directed at me. Fortunately, I brought a printout of the whole PDF document with me, so I had the correct script. Also fortunate was that the dialogue was only one, relatively brief paragraph -- thirty-seven words. I did a couple practice reads, then did two takes (#2 being a safety take).

This turn of events did make the direction in the email to speak naturally and not like a "radio announcer" much easier than for the VO text, which, of course, was written for a radio announcer and had that slicker feel to it.

My two takes? They were....good.


COVER OF LIFE ART WORK:

Friday night, well, early Saturday morning (circa 1:30 a.m.), I finished the mock-up cover of Life. I am pretty satisfied with the final version. I'd share it here, but I know at least a few Dayton locals who will see the show read this stupid blog -- so posting the cover here, especially before and during the run of the production, would be a most inappropriate spoiler.



Wed Nov 19, 2008

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MISCELLANY: K.L. watching the playback of a scene, direct from the camera LCD monitor screen
  • Improv movie -- The blog entry journaling the first full-fledged production weekend for the improv movie project is in the works and will be posted soon.



  • TINA GLOSS BACK ON PUSHING DAISIES -- ABC had delayed the episode and I let it slip my mind to mention that Ms. Gloss's first appearance, for the sophomore season, in a new performance as young Ned's mother, happens Nov. 19, which is, of course, tonight. The episode is entitled "Oh Oh Oh...It's Magic."

    Tina has also shared that she recently had the opportunity to work with John Cleese in an infomercial, "The Book of Inside Information."

    "He was just a joy to work -- or should I say have fun -- with," Tina writes in her email.

    As for Still Me, the immanent news is that there will be an article about the movie in a forthcoming issue of American Cinematographer, Jan. '09 (vol.90:no.1).



  • Fri Nov 21, 2008

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    OPENING TODAY AT THE DAYTON THEATRE GUILD:

    THE COVER OF LIFE by R.T. Robinson at the Dayton Theatre Guild,



    K.L. watching the playback of a scene, direct from the camera LCD monitor screen IT'S COMING


    Sun, Nov 23, 2008

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    STILL WORKING ON THE ENTRY TO CHRONICLE THE FIRST BONA FIDE PRODUCTION WEEKEND FOR THE IMPROV MOVIE (WORKSHOP TITLE -- BAR FLYING):
    K.L. watching the playback of a scene, direct from the camera LCD monitor screen
    A production still from the Balboni's segemnt

    Like I usually do with these, um, "reports," if you will, for projects or for something like the wrap-up to the adventure to the Secret City Film Festival, the entry for this first production weekend for the movie is being constructed, piecemeal, over several days -- a week now, in fact.

    Since this blog is often more accurately "a journal of artistic things" than a "diary," I, as is clear from a lot of the blog's content over the years, try to use what brain matter I have to attempt some analysis and interpretation of what I have been involved with.

    And, too, I am trying to get some still frames from the footage processed to post in the pics column. I have actual snapshot stills but I am grabbing some frames from the video, as well. Not as easy as it may sound. FinalCut creates frames that are, by default, 720 x 480 pixels. Problem is, and a complaint I have, these 720-pixel-wide images are originally 640 pixels wide stretched horizontally by 12.5%. After I have selected a frame to export as a still image, I have to use another image program, Corel Painter, to compress the image back down to 640 wide.

    Then there's also the fact that stills from a video, and usually film, are not as clean as a true, still photograph. So there's usually some sharpening and other enhancements that need to be made. I exported what amounted to several hundred still frames a few nights ago; for reasons I won't detail here, I abandoned them all and opted to start over. I have, as of this posting, one still frame from the weekend that is ready for posting. I post it in the left column here. It is the slate for camera 2 as the first footage on Saturday is about to be shot. In the far right of the frame, is Barbara Jorgensen, who is about to give a beautiful performance.

    The journaling blog entry covering the weekend, is coming.

    Really.



    THIS WEEKEND TO MULL OVER AN OPPORTUNITY THAT I AM ON THE FENCE ABOUT:

    My agent, Jim Payne at Roof-Goenner called me Friday afternoon about a full-time job opportunity. Without detailing here I will say that there is some appeal to it, but there are also large elements of the position that are one of: not really things I have much passion for, things not at all strong (or even part of) in my skill set, very intimidating, or some mixture of these.

    The pay is only a little better than what I make now at my rent-payer. I also can think of at least one other local actor for whom this job seems absolutely perfect. Jim said I was one of five people he thought of; I am willing to bet he whom I am referring to is also one of the five.

    The other side of this coin is that it would be a job directly in "show biz'ness." That has a monumental appeal to me. I told Jim I would think upon this over the weekend.


    THE COVER OF LIFE AT THE DAYTON THEATRE GUILD:

    As I write this, the first two performances have occurred. I was there as house manager, and as is always the case, tried to attend as little as possible to the performances so that when I get to sit in the audience I will have as fresh an experience as I can. The audiences did respond well, I do know that.

    And I got to get a look at the printed version of the Life magazine cover I mocked up. There are few minor problems, but, overall it looks pretty damned good even if I do say to myself.


    PUSHING DAISIES WILL SOON BE "PUSHING DAISIES":

    It is official, ABC has cancelled Pushing Daisies, which I found to be a well-done, quirky show. I think the probability is that it's just too quirky for many. According to Tina Gloss, the thirteen shows ordered for this season will be aired, but then that's it. I don't know if they've all been shot or not. Tina will not be back as Young Ned's mother.



    Mon, Nov 24, 2008

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    A production still from the Balboni's segemnt The Improv Movie Entry for the Nov 14-16 Production Days is Still in the Works and Coming

    If not tomorrow, then Wednesday,

    or Thursday, or Friday.


    THAT OPPORTUNITY TO BE FULL-TIME "SHOWBIZZ":

    So I emailed my agent Jim at Roof-Goenner and told him that I think it foolish for me to reject the opportunity, out-of-hand.

    I do, however, have some trepidations, the biggest being that the job requires a skill that is a miraculous art within itself, and I may have it -- if so, it's mostly untried. But I believe I ought to investigate this doorway and the hall it leads down more before I say, "No thanks." Ultimately, I may find that this job is not a good fit for me -- but at this point I don't know. And I may come to find out it is a great fit.

    Those seeking the talent want a reel, up to ten minutes. I have asked Jim exactly what needs to be on it and in what format do they want it? I currently have none of my film or tape work, save for a DVD of Nutcracker: the Musical. I may have to shoot a fresh audition performance or two.


    THE COVER OF LIFE AT THE DAYTON THEATRE GUILD: Again, yesterday I was host. The show seemed to be received well by the audience.

    All three of the major local critics where there over the weekend: Terry Morris for the Dayton Daily News, Russell Florence Jr. for the Dayton City Paper, and Burt Saidel for the Oakwood Register. So there is sure to be at least one of the three reviews out during this news-week.



    Tue, Nov 25, 2008

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    A production still from the Prison Visits segment The Improv Movie Nov 14-16 Production Days Entry is Now Slated for Thanksgiving Day.

    Day after tomorrow.

    Unless of course it's Friday


    MORE ON THAT OPPORTUNITY TO BE FULL-TIME "SHOWBIZZ":

    My agent has given me specs on what should be on the reel (*DVD). I am going to have to tape at least a little bit of audition material and plan to do so over this holiday weekend. The email he sent included the other actors he was sending the opportunity to. As I suspected, the fellow whom I said I immediately thought of for this is on the list. I'm still doing this though. Even if I ultimately would think it's not for me -- should I get that far in a callback process -- the practice at this sort of audition is invaluable just unto itself.


    D.D.N. REVIEW OF THE COVER OF LIFE:

    Terry Morris' review of our current Guild show came out in today's Dayton Daily News. It's a mixed bag, where he basically says the text is lacking but the performances are very good. Click here for the full article, for as long as it's available.



    Thu Nov 27, 2008

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    Happy ThanksGiving

    Peace be with you






    Kate (Elena Monigold) pours wine at Balboni's The Entry for the First Weekend of Improv Movie Shoots Will Be Posted Tomorrow

    Yep, I am still working on the text. Just never have found a good block of time to sit down and get the whole article, or essay, or whatever you want to call the composition, finished in one long sitting. It has been piecemeal. I will either finish it tonight -- barring the sedative effects of triptifen -- or tomorrow "morning" (that being a relative term based on a holiday-off day).

    I am getting close to forming the prose into a construct that is worth posting. So, it will be tomorrow -- if two weeks after the fact of the events.



    I'll also be playing editor and producer of the site proper, by making final decisions about holiday poetry and prose submissions. If you have an interest in submitting, you have until sometime this evening to submit your work. See the guidelines at www.theWriteGallery.com/sub_guide.html.



    Fri Nov 28, 2008

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    wst - BAR FLYING:
    the first official weekend of shoots

    Shooting the Balboni's scene
    Barbara Jorgensen, Brett Taylor, Elena Monigold and Gino Pasi in the scene that takes place at Balboni's Casa di Pizza in a vignette from the improv movie project with the workshop title: Bar Flying.

    K.L. takes the dart board down
    The dart board comes down as the area is
    transformed into Balboni's Casa di Pizza.
    K.L. places the chairs at Balboni's Casa di Pizza
    The Balboni's set
    The Balboni's set
    The Balboni's set Friday night, about 85-90%
    complete.
    The Balboni's set
    Balboni's a couple hours before the Saturday
    shoot.
    The Balboni's set
    Balboni's, again, a couple hours before the
    Saturday shoot, from a different perspective.
    Barbara Jorgensen in Balnoni's improv vignette
    Barbara Jorgensen as Leola Davenport
    The Balboni's shoot
    Barbara Jorgensen and Brett taylor at Balboni's
    Barb and Brett Taylor -- Brett as Jeremy Davenport
    Slating scene 2 at Balboni's
    The slate for the second portion of the improv riff for the Balboni's sequence. You may not be able to tell, but the slate has "Balbino's" incorrectly written on it; as well, I repeatedly misspoke and called the sequence Balbino's in my verbal slates. AND I CREATED THE NAME BALBONI'S!
    Elena Monigold at Balboni's
    Elena Monigold as Kate Johnson
    The scene at Balboni's
    Gino Pasi at Balboni's
    Gino Pasi as Dave Vallas
    The scene at Balboni's
    Jara Justice at Balboni's
    Zara Justice as Tina Balboni
    The scene at Balboni's
    The scene at Balboni's
    The scene at Balboni's
    The scene at Balboni's
    The prison visition room
    The visitation room at prison -- IE: the jail set.
    Fred Boomer adjusting setting on camera
    Director of photography, Fred Boomer, sets the
    camera for the Prison Visitation sequences.
    Wayne Justice as Grady O'Donnell
    Wayne Justice as Grady O'Donnell
    The prison visition room
    Fred Boomer on camaera
    Crystal Justice as Celeste Balboni-O'Donnell
    Crystal Justice as Celeste Balboni-O'Donnell
    Prison Visits: Celeste
    Celeste visits Grady

    Well, it took two weeks to write this entry, off-and-on during the period, but here it finally is for whatever it's worth.....

    "Bar Flying" is now more of a workshop title (*wst) for the project than ever. In fact, I guarantee the finished product will bear a different name, whatever that name shall be. "Bar Flying" now only refers to the fact that the basic production location has thus far been in the basement of the Dayton Theatre Guild Wayne Avenue facility, where the bar & restaurant area is a prominent feature.

    Thus far, however, we have shot no official scenes using the bar, save for the test shoot. I have at least one segment planned for there, though. There's no way I am going to have spent all that time and effort (and money) on those 4x8 foam sheets, turning them into mirror masks, then not use them in a shoot.

    But, onward to what we did shoot during this weekend in question of Nov 15-16. We shot segments set at the fictitious Balboni's Casa di Pizza and then at a visitation room at a medium security prison. Both those sets, of course, created elsewhere in the DTG Wayne Ave. basement.

    For all practical purposes, the weekend production started in earnest that Friday evening with some pre-production. I could say it had been the Thursday evening, which is technically true, but I actually got no pre-production for the weekend accomplished. In the late afternoon Thursday I did drop into a few places in search of a banquet-length table cloth, but didn't find one. So I put a few calls into folk who might have a line on one. Got an answer the next day. Carol Finley, current Guild president, loaned me one of hers. I'd actually called her to see if she knew if the Guild owned one that might be stuffed in a box and setting on a shelf somewhere.

    And then, for the rest of Thursday evening....well....you know how parts of your week can kind of get vague as you think back upon it? If I remember it correctly, Thursday night was one of several recent nights that I lay down for a moment to take a little nap that ended up as me out for the night. Or, maybe I worked more on the Cover of Life cover of Life. I'm not really sure which one it was.

    My Friday afternoon and night I am very sure about. As per the usual, I skipped the gym, where I need to be at far more than I ever am, to go almost straight from work to the movie location where I put the finishing touches, or at least most of them, on Balboni's Casa di Pizza.

    It was "almost straight to the movie location" because first I dropped by the Guild's Salem Avenue venue and grabbed a few props: some serving plates (we won't discuss how I later found a large stash of EXACTLY the same style of dishes in the kitchen in the Wayne Avenue basement); two serving pitchers, for sodas at the restaurant (which we ended up not using because the refreshment of choice for dinner ended up being "red wine" -- i.e.: water with red food coloring); also grabbed a vase and some plastic flowers, (which we also did not use because the vase was too tall and the flowers were too colorful and thus they both pulled focus); lastly, a large round metal serving plate (for the fabulous Balboni's pizza to be served on). All the serving material, I took home with me to wash. Anyone going to be surprised to read that I ended up leaving the metal plate at home, in my dish drainer on the day of the shoot?

    On Wayne, Friday evening I got to work and finished the lion's wealth of the Balboni's set. The biggest things were that I got that dart board down off the wall, the paintings up, and a long table in place. I think I may have dragged a few rolls of carpet down from the main floor, for use as sound buffer in that little gray room that served as the Prison Visits set on Sunday. You may be able to tell from the pictures I've posted of the room that it's basically a rectangular concrete room, which means it has a major acoustical reverb ambience. We needed to kill as much of that as we could. I know I hung the carpet Sunday morning, but I believe I brought at least some of it down Friday night -- but I may be remembering incorrectly, and I choose to believe this is because of the heightened amount of production activity in a compressed parameter of time and not because of pentagenarian issues.

    At home Friday night, after I'd done dishes for the production, I sat at my computer with Corel Painter and finished off the mock-up cover of Life for The Cover of Life. I sent the finished product to director Fran Pesch at about 1:30 or so Saturday morning.

    The 15th being the third Saturday of the month, I had a 9 a.m. Dayton Theatre Guild board meeting. Right after that I was part of a directors, producers, and publicity meeting for DTG, because I am producing the last two shows of the 08/09 season.

      Q: Why am I producing both of the last two shows of the season?
      A: because I am both an egomaniac and an idiot.

    My whine here is that I got to bed about 2:00 Saturday morning, probably got to sleep about 2:30, then got up at 7. Thing is, I am and have always been one of those light-weights who needs a good six hours sleep to function anywhere close to full capacity, and really, eight hours of golden slumbers is my good bare-minimum. But as of late I've not gotten much of that. The four and a half hours was much less than I would have liked, but, so-oh-well.

    Aside from being much thicker and weightier behind my eyes when I woke up Saturday than I like, when I logged on for my morning email, I also got the kind of news that a director or producer is less than enthused about: one of the actors had to cancel from the Saturday shoot. This project being so loose, his absence was not a day-killer. On the other hand, I had plans for his character as a tie in to the stuff we would shoot the next day. I also had specifically devised things going on in his life to contribute to the drama at the table at Balboni's on Saturday.

    In poetic terms, I'd planned to make grape juice and had to make lemonade instead. So, I made lemonade.

    The cast for the Balboni's segment is, in order of appearance: Barbara Jorgensen as Leola Davenport (the rather uptight matriarch of the Davenport family); Crystal Justice as Celeste Balboni-O'Donnell (the Balboni granddaughter and the general manager of the restaurant); Zara Justice as Celeste's niece, Tina Balboni; Brett Taylor as Jeremy Davenport (Leola's son); Elena Monigold as Kate Johnson (Jeremy's sister, Leola's daughter); and Gino Pasi as Dave Vallas (Kate's boyfriend).

    Barb and Elena are well-known in the Dayton theatre community, as any Dayton theatre people and patrons reading this know, and they both have serious skills at this acting craft. Crystal is more associated with the Springfield, Ohio theatre community. I may have to verify this, but I think this weekend was Crystal's debut as an actor. I must say, she's got a magnitude of potential, which showed itself especially on Sunday when she was featured far more than Saturday. More on that later. I met Crystal during the Springfield StageWorks production of Endgame where she served as the box office manager.

    It's no coincidence that Crystal's last name is Justice, the same as my co-star in Endgame, Wayne Justice. They married perhaps a year or two after that show closed. Zara is Wayne's daughter. She was on set and wanted to get on screen, so Crystal devised the idea that Zara play Celeste's niece; I was okay with it, so Zara has a walk-on in the Balboni's segment.

    As chronicled a little while back, Brett is new to the Dayton theatre community -- at least he's new to me -- and I first met him when we both auditioned for the forthcoming Guild production of Catfish Moon. He also is one of the three actors who participated in the test shoot on November 1.

    Gino is of the Columbus theatre & indy film community. I know him from my rent-paying job, to where he commutes daily from said Columbus. I invited him into the project having never seen him act, but rather based on my intuition that told me he has skill. My intuition was correct.

    As for Wayne Justice, he operated camera 2 Saturday. His day as an actor was Sunday, playing the role of Celeste's husband, Grady O'Donnell. The whole Saturday crew consisted of myself, Fred and Wayne. On Sunday it was just Fred and me -- and for most of the shoot, just me (on both cameras), because Fred had an obligation elsewhere to fulfill. Young Chris Tung, who had been on camera 2 when we did the test shoot, was actually off shooting a 48-hour film type production with a friend over this same weekend.

    The famous Balboni's pizza pie was actually ordered from Pizza Hut, along with an order of PH's pasta in marinnara sauce. Now, if you remember, I had already realized that I'd left the metal serving dish -- for the Balboni's pizza -- back at my apartment, some thirty-minutes away. On the drive to get the pizza, Saturday afternoon, it occurred to me that I'd left one other rather important element of the production day at home, as well. That would be the DV tape cassettes for the DV cameras! It's rather difficult to get footage when you have nothing to record that footage on.

    In a panic, I called Fred's cell phone from my car to see if he'd brought some. He'd gone off-site for while since there was a bit of down time for him; as I tried to reach his cell all I was getting was his voice mail; I was starting to mentally inventory East Dayton to remember where might be the closest place to buy some mini DV tapes. When I did get him on the phone, I was relieved to hear he indeed did have some blank tapes with his equipment, back at Wayne.

    By early afternoon there was a sleety rain coming down in the area as the call for cast members was approaching (2:00) and I actually expected Gino to be bit late. He'd called me a little before 1:00 to say he was just leaving Columbus, and with the slick highway I was prepared to start shooting without him and have his character arrive late to the dinner date at Balboni's. But, as I talked with the rest of the cast just before we started to shoot the scene, in he walked, only but a short few minutes late.

    Our little family gathering at Balboni's went fabulously. The cast delivered great performances for me -- for the cameras. I am most pleased with the footage I have. There's more than fifty minutes on each tape, out of which I can edit a tight twenty or thirty minutes, or even less.

    Now the big question becomes: can my dinosaur of a 400 MHz Power PC G4 computer handle editing together a thirty minute movie? It could be a question of adding more RAM. Right now I have 832 mbs and I believe I can go to 1 gig, maybe more. I may need to. In fact, a Mac geek on campus told me he thinks I can take it up to four gigs, maybe more.

    My statement to the cast and crew Saturday was that my goal was to be wrapped by 5:00, and 6:00 was the absolute stopping point. We wrapped at about 4:00 or 4:30 after only running once through the improv exercise. I had thought I might stop the cast occasionally and adjust their story direction but that did not happen. We did stop a couple times to set up the next portion but these were not readjustments or backtracks.

    The cast riffed so well on the set-up I gave them that I was satisfied with where they took things, which is one of the reasons I did not redirect them. It's true, too, that I could have been a more proactive director. I think it probable I missed recognizing good opportunities for redirection, opportunities surely there despite the good work that the actors delivered.

    Perhaps if the actors had slouched in their performances I'd have keyed in on a need to intervene; but, they did better than simply well. That's not to point fingers at my cast, though; if I missed chances as the director to make the vignette better I certainly am not going to blame them for being too good. My missing any opportunities is to be faulted to me and my very green shading as a director.

    There were some occasions during the shoot when I would be just about to jump in because the riff was showing signs of being about to die but then just as I was about to intervene, someone would say something interesting and I did not want to kill the momentum at that point. They did also, on occasion, fumble around with each other, basically feeling out the scene in what are really some moments when the actors groping is transparent. This was their first run of the scene though, with only a road map, and they were essentially checking out the landmarks on the road map. Those moments, along with a couple contradictory statements and some "facts" I don't want in the final product will all be seamlessly edited out of the final cut.

    My little domestic DV camcorder, some, or at least one of you, may remember, had suffered a state of mechanical disrepair back while I was beginning to shoot the now legally unavailable promotional trailer for I Ought to Be in Pictures. Recently, I've been borrowing (checking out) a small, three CCD chip model from a department in the Wright State University Library. I'd hoped to get one for this weekend of shoots, to have set up in the corner to document the production day. There only being three of these machines available, and it being close to the end of the Fall quarter on campus, there was high student demand for them, so I was not able to get one for the weekend. Too bad, too, because I have an idea for this project for which such footage would have been a great asset.

    The point in mentioning the library's three chip DV cameras is that I also had no source machine for the footage we shot over the weekend to use at home to either look at or to transfer the footage into FinalCut. Fred let me take one of his cameras home Saturday evening to at least look at the footage, and really to also get it onto my computer's hard drive. However, Saturday evening was indeed one of those times where I lay down for a nap and woke up the next morning. Actually, I woke up at midnight, but I went right back to sleep. The next morning I awoke at a relatively early time, unprecedented for me on a Sunday, at about 8:00, so I did get a chance to look at the Saturday footage from camera 1. But then I needed to get to Wayne Ave. to prep the set for the day.

    It occurs to me now that I did at least start to hang some of the carpet in the back of the little gray room on Friday evening. I'm pretty sure I pulled a tall, folding flat into there and placed it as a V in the corner and draped a carpet over it. Or at least I placed the flat Friday night. Most of the sound buffering, however, I am sure came about Sunday morning and early afternoon. I laid carpet on the back half of the floor. I hung carpet down all the side and back walls just behind the part of the room in frame on screen. There actually was a Chinese rug hanging on the wall as seen on the right of the frame in the still photography pics in this entry's picture column, but I did not snap any pictures to target that fact after I had hung it. It is, however, visible to some extent in the one snapshot of me watching the camera monitor which I have posted above in previous recent entries, as well as in the very last picture in the right column here -- the rug is the tan fabric you can see right in front of the camera.

    I also stood some narrow flats at the doorway leading off into little hallway to the side of the room in back, and I draped carpet over those flats to keep voices from echoing back from the concrete in that adjacent hall. You can see that work just behind me in that last pic to the right, too. All my efforts worked well. I really became aware of how much reverb was killed as we tore it all down the following weekend. The more we removed, the more pronounced the reverb on our voices got. I would have loved to have killed all the reverb, but what we end up with in the footage is certainly acceptable. What would have been there had we not buffered would have been too unwieldy to work with. It's better to add reverb or echo electronically in post than to have to contend with it as production sound*. But, we have good sound from the shoot.

      * Production sound: sound actually recorded on the set or location as the scene is being shot -- often it's not usable because of undesirable quality or because of intrusive noise such as heaters, air conditioners, wind, etc.).

    There is an exception to this good production sound idea. Somehow, before we started shooting, a fluorescent light was inadvertently turned back on, one we had decisively determined must NOT be on, and camera 2 did pick up a bit of a hum from it. I may be able to work with it. And I have the audio from camera 1 to sync in if I need to when using shots from no.2.

    Sound buffering contended with, we started rolling on time on Sunday. That day, Crystal's character, Celeste, was featured far more than her two brief walk-ons during the Saturday shoot. Wayne, who was not in front of the camera at all Saturday, was the prominent character on screen, Sunday, Grady the convict. Also on set Sunday was Duante Beddingfield, the only of the three actors from the Nov. 1 test shoot to keep the same character, Rev. Marcus Washburn. Marcus stayed because I found him interesting and also to have great potential if thrown in with the other Saturday characters, which was unable to occur. I made him Jeremy's best friend from high school. And despite that Duante was the actor who had to cancel the Saturday shoot, I have kept Marcus as such. I am thinking that Jeremy and Marcus will be together in that bone fide bar scene we have yet to shoot.

    Some may know from either this blog or from seeing the productions, that Duante and I have worked together twice before, once on stage in the new play Playing God, by Gary Flaxman, at FutureFest 2007, then he was the AD/stage manager for The Best Man last season at the Guild. We both also work for Fran Pesch in the guided improv work for U.D. Law.

    And again, Duante was that actor who unfortunately had to cancel from the Balboni's scene on Saturday. I had already planned to use Marcus in the Sunday shoot, at the prison, I just wasn't able to set it up during the Balboni's scene in the way I had intended.

    For the sake of a little exposition and set-up in the movie, I, myself, made a brief appearance on screen. I was a lawyer again, as I was in voice-over at the start of The Chorus for Candice -- coincidentally, that previous appearance served the same purpose, as this new one, as part of the initial exposition and set-up. The need this time didn't come to my mind until that morning, and that timeliness, or, poor timing, persuaded the character quality of the lawyer I played. My hair's a bit longer than it ought to be for a top-dog counselor, so I slicked it back at Wayne's suggestion. Further, as we shot the scene. my tie inadvertently was flipped around backwards. I come off on screen looking like a two-bit lawyer with probably a dismal success rate. It actually works for the scene despite that I played the lawyer with a demeanor of confidence, if such is his own self delusion.

    Sunday's shoot proved as esthetically prosperous as the day before. Wayne, Crystal and Duante all gave me good work. Wayne and Duante I already knew would give good stuff; Crystal was the unknown quantity, but I had this sense that she'd do well -- and she did. She is natural as an actor and her improv is as close to on top of it as anyone else's. And as already stated, I think her practical acting experience is pretty slim if not almost non-existent.

    Find it surprising that I believe the weakest performance of the weekend to be my own little cameo?

    Fred left a few minutes into the scene that was shot second, which was Wayne and Crystal (Grady and Celeste). First we shot Wayne and me, but that segment is only probably a minute long, maybe ninety seconds. Since I was a camera operator Sunday, we just left my camera unattended while I was in front of the cameras. After Fred left, I was the only camera operator, so I floated between the two. I would change the zoom on one subject while the other was talking. That way there will be more visual variety for the final cut. And the camera will be zooming mostly in footage that will not be used, though a few zooms might work.

    Once again I'll say it: looking through the camera lens while I am also directing is not what I prefer. I am too focused on actor performance to attend totally to screen composition or shooting-related flubs. And, there are a couple pieces of equipment that show up in my shots from Sunday. They can be dealt with in post production editing, but the fact that they are there proves I cannot direct and be behind the camera at the same time to optimum results. The Chorus for Candice had already proved this to me: Can you say, "Moving boom shadow?"

    Although, I still have to say I shot some well-composed frames that Sunday, especially a few CU's (close ups) and ECU's (extreme close ups).

    Some other good lessons came from the weekend. One idea from Mr. Pasi is to run through a rehearsal first. That would give the actors the chance to feel things out and get on the same page. It would cut down immensely or completely eliminate those moments when the actors need to grope on camera for the path of the story. It would also give me the chance to realign the direction of the story as well as correct any "factual" errors that run contrary to the universe I set them into the midst of. Ms. Jorgensen would have liked to have had more time with the other actors before the cameras rolled, to discuss the dynamics of their relationship and to even interact in character. Again, that would have helped them be better on the same page with each other. Both actors present valuable and valid points that I am taking to heart.

    And man would I have liked to have had an AD or a co-producer on set. Crystal kind of did some of that work but I never sat her down and gave her specifics. Should have; she is the kind of management-minded person who could do the work famously. Here are some examples of the results of no AD or other production partners:

    • There were no menus at our Balboni's Casa di Pizza. Had a menu been incremental to a conflict or story set-up, I would have thought about them. As it was, they were a minutia of detail that was not on my radar. An AD or co-producer might have said, "Won't the restaurant need menus?"
    • Over this weekend I completely let the mundane task of paperwork go unattended. I forgot to have the new actors -- all but Brett and Duante -- sign the actor's release forms. And the production log records were hardly filled out. Crystal did one for Saturday. I still need to get all this addressed to completion.

    Beyond all that, the other limitation or box we stayed in was to keep the action basically stationary. In all three shoots we've done so far, the Nov 1 test shoot and both the official shoots over the Nov 15-16 weekend, the characters are pretty much either standing at the bar (test shoot) or sitting at a table (Balboni's and Prison Visits). Some characters walk in or walk out of scene, but beyond those brief moments, there's not much dynamic action in the meat of the drama. People are sitting and talking.

    Different ranges of close up, medium and wide shots, and repositioning of the camera tripods all will help break up the visual monotony, but only to a certain extent. We've been doing this investigation into how to shoot improv work with two cameras in baby steps. It's time to look at more sophisticated shooting schemes. We need actors on the move, going from room to room or down a hall way, or walking across the room in interesting framing, and other such like behavior. And I have one such idea, if I can get the two actors I want for this together and in an appropriate location.

    The challenge is to have controlled plotting of the shoots and of the actors physical action and still allow them the relative freedom to improv. Lighting the scenes becomes more of a challenge when the subjects and the camera are on the move. But movies need this sort of visual interest, so a film maker is either up to the challenge or needs to find a different artistic outlet.

    We'll be taking a few weeks off, but I hope to be able to shoot again in mid December and I now look to do something in January, only because there is an actor I very much want to use in this project who will become available then.

    As for what the final cut will be, I am not completely sure. I do know I have a concept that has each vignette featuring at least one character who has been in at least one other vignette. Celeste was at Balboni's, and of course, Marcus was supposed to be as well. Half-rate Lawyer Guy will probably not be making another appearance. I do still have some actors, like the January one, that I want to use. As the canvas I am painting becomes clearer to me, I will figure how to incorporate them into this overall concept.

    This thing may end up having some length to it. It could be at least an hour when it's all done with, if not longer. I really will need to be on a different computer, or at least have the RAM (SDRAM, actually) jacked up to maximum capacity. At this point, I have no doubt I would have nothing but crashes all night when attempting to edit a FinalCut movie sequence that has gotten anywhere into the neighborhood of thirty minutes, much less an hour or more. But I see this as perhaps something that can easily and justifiably grow into pretty close to full-length feature time, and I'm not going to back off that because of my technology problems.

    Another idea that has surfaced is that this be packaged to be as much about the improv process used as anything else, perhaps with the actors talking about their experiences and involvement here, and maybe then also speaking about improv in general. That's not a lock for me but it most certainly is an idea that I have not rejected. It has merit and may be the only route to anything close to marketability, though I am not sure it meets an overly-potent potential marketability.

    The irony here is that of all the movie concepts I conceived of in recent times, this one was last on the list. It's just the easiest to pull off so it's what I got to first. Now my mind is racing with all the other projects I want to get to.

    For god's sake, I have two screenwriting software programs sitting in my application folder waiting for me to pick which of them I'm going to start dating.

    Fred Boomer on camera
    Prison Visits: Celeste
    Duante Beddingfield as Rev. Marcus Washburn
    Duante Beddingfield as Rev. Marcus Washburn
    Prison Visit: Marcus
    Marcus visits Grady
    Prison Visit: Marcus
    Prison Visits: the lawyer
    Half-rate lawyer guy.
    Wayne Justice as Grady O'Donnell
    Crystal Justice as Celeste Balboni-O'Donnell
    Duante Beddingfield as Rev. Marcus Washburn

    K.L. watching the playback of a scene, direct from the camera LCD monitor screen
    After the actors were wrapped and gone on Sunday, there I was, watching the dailies (the playback of the footage shot that day).


    THE FULL-TIME SHOWBIZ JOB:

    Now, to take off the freshman director's hat and put on the sophomore actor's hat, I have a DV camcorder for the weekend. The plan is to shot fresh audition footage of myself. I am not sure yet what that will be. The specs say it must "show [my] humor, improv, magic and charisma."

    The major factor about this I haven't mentioned before is that this position is to work with children. And that skill is an artform onto itself. I love the dickens out of young ones, but whether or not I have the presence it takes to win and keep the attention and favor of an audience of them is something that remains to be seen.

    The search team for this, of which I do not know for what company or organization, prefers a DVD of the "reel," but would also accept a VHS cassette tape. For me it'll be just as simple to burn a DVD. The next step will be an interview with finalists. At this point the salary looks to be just a little more than I make right now at my rent-payer, with a vacation, medical and travel package plus the costs of costumes and props.

    Again, I am doing this audition despite my own self-critical assessment of my comedic instincts. The need for magic presents an interesting question, too. Does it mean one must have a "magical personality" or does it mean one must have mastery in the craft? The former is arguable; the latter, well, David Copperfield I am not.

    Still, as a wise actor friend once said, which I have mentioned here before but which deserves repeating: Every audition is a learning experience; you always learn something you can later use. As I have already written about this new opportunity, I will at least have a try at this particular mechanics of auditioning for something, so that the next time it comes up, and maybe the job is closer to a snug fit for me, I will have already had practical experience at the procedure. One of the other things I have done is to get hold of some software that will help me capture a section off a DVD of the performance I did as Godfather Drosselmeier in Nutcracker: the Musical at the Guild several years ago. I am thinking I will use my song, "The Nutcracker's Lament." Perhaps other moments from it would be good, too. That and the new material should work on the disk ("reel"). Assembling composite reels is something I have not done yet. It's something I have known for a while I have to do. This audition get's me into this new practice, if it does nothing else.

    Beyond that, there is that other wisdom in the acting world that even when you may not be what the auditor has in mind for the particular project, he or she still may like your audition. Later, something new may come up where she or he will think of you as right for the role. Or, you walk back in, independently, and he or she remembers your good audition for that thing you weren't right for. It's good for me to rehearse auditioning and it's good to put myself in front of auditors, if not for their projects of the hour, then for their projects of the future. Regardless of how good or bad a fit I believe I am for anything I audition for, I always view my audition as a dress rehearsal for the next one. I always try to become aware of what I did well and poorly -- honestly, recognizing what I did poorly and how to change such is more important.



    Tue, Dec 2, 2008

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    THE FULL-TIME SHOWBIZ JOB:

    Here's the deal -- I brought home a three-chip DV camera from work over the long holiday weekend. I had four days to get fresh audition material shot for the audition reel. Outside of a few moments I shot to both test lower lighting and also to see how FinalCut will deal with footage shot at 9:16 aspect ratio, I shot nothing relating to the audition. And what I did shoot, I shot late Sunday night, so I hadn't had the chance to dump it onto my computer.

    Never fear, though, I checked a DV camera out again yesterday and here's hoping that by Thursday I have the footage I need. I also have downloaded some software to help me capture some DVD footage of myself to add to the reel.


    AMERICAN BUFFALO ON BROADWAY: I just read a review in Daily Variety (v.301:no.32, Nov.18, 2008) of the Broadway revival of American Buffalo that makes it look like we did more than competitive work in the spring of 2007 for Springfield StageWorks. The B'Way show just closed after only a week; its cast was:

    Click here for the review.


    NICE REVIEW OF THE COVER OF LIFE:

    Russell Florence Jr. gave a good review to the current Guild production, in last week's Dayton City Paper.

    Click here for the review.



    Sun, Dec 7, 2008

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    CLOSING TODAY

    THE COVER OF LIFE by R.T. Robinson at the Dayton Theatre Guild,

    The cast of The Cover of Life
    in order of appearance in the script

    Debra Strauss            Kate Miller
    Wendi Williams            Weetsie
    Holly Kuhn            Sybil
    Angela Timpone            Tood
    Jennifer Lockwood            Aunt Ola
    Heather Martin            Addie Mae
    Matt Curry            Tommy

    ANOTHER GOOD REVIEW OF THE COVER OF LIFE: Burt Saidel's review in the December 2 issue of The Oakwood Register was also favorable to today's closing show. Mr. Saidel's response to the production can be summed up by one paragraph of his review:

    A Great Shakespeare play can survive a weak cast or interpretation. A flawed play can be elevated by great acting and direction. The Dayton Theatre Guild offering, R. T. Robinson's The Cover of Life, is a perfect example of the latter premise.

    Click here for the review


    And click here to see my contribution to the production -- The photographer being Fred Boomer.



    Wed Dec 10, 2008

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    AUDITION DVD REEL FOR THE FULL-TIME SHOWBIZ JOB:

    This friggin' "reel" proved to be more of a challenge than I'd anticipated. mostly because of some technical problems I encountered when trying to include the Godfather Drosselmeier material. I have now been once again led to be far more verbose with an entry than it probably needs, and likely only to fulfill my own delusional need and delusional belief that I have something important and interesting to say.

    Arianna Huffington recently described blogging as basically unedited, first-thoughts/best-thoughts writing. My blog ain't either, though one can successfully argue that even if this blog isn't truly "unedited," it frequently qualifies as poorly edited. Recently, I fixed a typo from months back; that is a common occurrence. Just last night I fixed several spelling and other grammatical errors I had finally recognized all over this particular page.

    My point being that this entry, as is sometimes the case here, has not been written in one long sitting. This portion you're reading right now was started Sunday afternoon before I headed to The Guild to help strike the Cover of LIFE set, and was edited and revised over the course of time between then and the eventual posting. As I initially typed this paragraph, my DVD ripper software was converting a portion of the personal DVD of The Nutcracker: the Musical into an mp4 file so I could use my performance of the song "The Nutcracker's Lament," as Godfather Drosselmeier, on the reel. When I finished that sentence, I checedk the progress and it was 24% finished with the conversion. It was about 2:49 p.m. At this point I knew I would be leaving at about 4:00 or 4:30 to get to the theatre to help strike. The rate the conversion was progressing at tells me it probably would not be done before I left. It'd been working for a couple hours already to only be at that one-fourth point. I hoped it would be finished by the time I got home, which I guessed would be circa 7 p.m. The goal was to edit the reel together Sunday night so I could burn it after work Monday.

    *An hour later (3:41 p.m. Sunday) the progress of the conversion was only at 31%. Not a good sign.

    Originally started on Sunday afternoon, this section was intended for a blog entry dated for Monday, December 8. I knew as I worked on it that it wasn't outside the realm of possibility that the actual post date might be Tuesday, December 9, or later. I declare this only because I know of my pseudo-philosophical intent for the section. My goal is to touch on the ideas of muse, motivation, action and procrastination as well as chronicling the events described here. So this has been treated as an essay, albeit loosely as one. At its inception, it was written as a Word doc rather than being written in Text Wrangler and keyed in at its point of placement in the "kls_blog21.html" document. Thus, the plan was that when I was done composing the section, it'd be copied and pasted into the proper spot in the html document for this blog page. *As a point of order, the composition of the essay was finished in Text Wrangler.

    The pseudo-philosophical? -- it starts with this: I first brought a DV camcorder home from work to shoot new audition material for this reel over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. I had Wednesday evening, Thursday morning, most of the day Friday, Saturday morning & evening, and Sunday morning & evening to shoot the footage. I did not get it shot. I checked the camera back out the following day, Monday, Dec 1, and I had then three evenings to shoot it. An extra day was added to that because I called in sick and was home all day Thursday. I really did not feel well Thursday, though I suppose it could have been a productive day toward the reel. I got nothing shot Monday through Thursday. I checked the camcorder out again for this past weekend. I had all day Saturday and Sunday morning & early afternoon to shoot the footage.

    I shot the footage in the early afternoon this past Sunday (Dec 7) at that point in time most commonly know as "The Eleventh Hour."

    Isn't it curious that as serious as I present myself to be about this art and craft (a presentation I believe is true) I postponed the taping of the audition performance until the last possible moment? This is not new behavior. I often have had this odd, contradictory resistance to delving into the artistic action of the hour. Often when I was writing a lot of fiction, I would suddenly find myself doing household chores that I really don't like to do rather than sitting down to work on a story, or the next chapter of my novel. Yet, I love to write, I love to act, I love to make music (despite that I have made very little in the last decade or so), I love creating whatever it is the medium I am working in calls for. That is, after I am inside the artwork and am doing it I love it. As I stand there before it, preparing myself to take action, I am usually reluctant, sometimes painfully reluctant.

    Art intimidates the shit out of me. Whenever I achieve anything artistically and aesthetically satisfying, I am first of all, absolutely amazed I accomplished it; secondly, I am not completely sure how in the hell I managed to pull it off, and sometimes I am totally in the dark as to how; thirdly, I always have this stark foreboding sense and dark, fearful thought that I will never be able to do it again; I mean anything -- I am terrified that I have just gasped the last artistic breath of my life. The happier I am with whatever work I have just finished, the deeper my anxiety about the death knoll of my artistic capabilities.

    It's irrational and unfounded, yet the feeling of alarm for my artistic future is authentic and palpable. So, when I walk up to the edge of the bank of that lake, or, oh hell, that sea of creative venture, I often stand there, staring at the ripples on the surface, wondering if I can swim this time. Never mind that I may have swam well and strongly last time and that I have many previous like experiences.

    Right now, as I sit here writing this, I think of myself out on a stage in front of an audience of people, saying words I have committed to memory, speaking them in a fashion that brings the character alive for that audience. I think about me, deep inside the psyche and soul of that character, being him to all of myself, my cast mates and that audience. It seems an impossible feat and I cannot think of how I ever managed to achieve it nor how I could ever again. Yet, of course, I ultimately know that I can and that I will, even if I know such with that dose of doubt that plagues mixed in.

    For this new audition material the specific dilemma was that I am to submit footage that, as I wrote before, must "show [my] humor, improv, magic and charisma." It took me a while to mosey up to the improv work. As is the nature of improv, I did not know what I was going to do. It didn't help that because of the circumstances I was going to be doing a solo improv performance -- improv is most naturally a team craft with two or more players feeding off of and giving to each other. Solo or team, this particular improv piece needs to be funny, energetic and soaked in spontaneity. Yep, intimidating. Probably I was putting it off, was avoiding trying to reach a successful improv riff, because the risk of not arriving at one is so acutely protruding it might as well be a Roman chariot scythe spinning towards my legs to cut me down on the battlefield. Ironic, isn't it? -- that I would have this perspective, considering the specific movie production I am in the midst of producing.

    Art intimidates the shit out of me. The risk is always so emotionally real even when it's something as innocuous as playing the fool for kids. But then, again, it is true that capturing and keeping captive the attention and fascination of a child is an art form, a craft, a gift unto itself. Doing so with a group of children is exponentially demanding, perhaps to the power of ten. And doing anything for a talent auditor is loaded with nerve-piercing pins and needles.

    K.L. Storer as Prof. Snicklefritz in improv video audition
    Prof. Snicklefritz
    K.L. Storer as Prof. Snicklefritz in improv video audition
    K.L. Storer as Prof. Snicklefritz in improv video audition
    K.L. Storer as Prof. Snicklefritz in improv video audition
    K.L. Storer as Prof. Snicklefritz in improv video audition
    K.L. Storer as Prof. Snicklefritz in improv video audition
    But, even if I put it off and put it off, the time comes when I get off my ass and do it. This time, as is not unusual, I did it almost at the last possible moment. Before I tell what I did, I tell how I came to it. A few weeks back, a co-worker at the rent-payer asked me if I wanted to accept a donation of a toupee for the Guild. Now, hair pieces really need to be custom made for a particular man and his particular pattern of baldness, but I figured, what the hell, so I told her to bring it in. I still had it at the apartment so I figured: humor for kids? A bad toupee on my head will surely be a comic prop. And, indeed it is. It looks really stupid, which in this case is what is wanted. See to the right.

    To the bad hair piece, I added the tacky-ass plaid sport jacket and those thick, black rim eye glass frames I used as Jensen in The Best Man. Then, a small plastic container of baby powder and a generic east European accent and I became Prof. Snicklefritz, warning children about playing practical jokes with itching powder. The professor demonstrates to the kids, using "fake" itching powder, how the powder would be applied by those naughty children who would do so. Then he realizes that someone has switched the fake with the real. He starts itching uncontrollably, spastically, until he collapses below frame. And, of course, his toupee has fallen off several times.

    I did one take without a rehearsal and I asserted such in the slate for the reel. In said slate I said that I was doing an improv that I had given some thought to and had gathered props for, but that I had not rehearsed it and that I would send the very first take. Then I also said I was including the excerpt from The Nutcracker musical, gambling that I would not have file problems that rendered such inclusion impossible.

      *SLATE: IN THIS CASE, TO IDENTIFY AN ACTOR'S NAME, REPRESENTATION (IF ANY), AND THE SCENE THEY WILL BE PERFORMING IN THE AUDITION.

    Indeed, the only thing then left to worry about was would I be able to grab that portion of The Nutcracker to include on the DVD reel. When I got home from the Cover of LIFE strike at about 7 p.m., the prospects did not look good. The section I had started converting earlier in the day was ripped to mp4 from the DVD. However, that mp4 did not play well, and as it turned out, the part with the song was not in the first two DVD chapters that I converted. So I immediately converted chapter three, though I had valid concerns that this new mp4 would not play correctly, either. It did rip much faster, being only 00:04:38. Still, it took just about three hours. It was 10:05 before I could open the second file in Quicktime to see if it would play. It would not. I also went ahead and created the FinalCut project then tried to import the mp4 file in. FinalCut reported a general error.

    Turns out that apparently also, the song I need is in chapter two, after all. So I went back in to rip chapter two. This time I changed the codecs to match the mp4 file format at MPEG-4 Video (the software had defaulted to a 264 codecs). It was past 10:30 when I started that so I thought I had to go to bed with the program still converting the chapter, however, MPEG-4 Video files are written faster than I thought they would be, so it wrote in about an hour. Unfortunately, that file didn't work either. It would play but the problem is a flaw on the DVD. A Monday night DVD burn was looking pretty slim. Tuesday night I was suppose to scout a location for the next Saturday's shoot. A vignette of Kate and Dave (Elena Monigold and Gino Pasi) at home is on the agenda.

    The flaw has to do with a stall in playing that I am familiar with. I have never been able to successfully play the DVD on either my lap top (now dearly departed) or my tower computer. Several minutes in, and just before "Nutcracker's Lament," the movie freezes. It had happened on the first copy I was given and so I was burned another copy. The same thing happens in the same spot on the second copy. However, I can successfully play the DVD on my regular DVD player. I'm not sure what the problem is but I suspect there is a flaw on the movie code that the DVD player has a higher sample rate for which it can compensate for whatever the error is.

    What actually happened in the file creation was that the song turns out to be in chapter one, but the conversion stops at that point where the glitch is. So that chapter two mp4 I had created with the MPEG-4 Video did run correctly, but doesn't have what I need. I subsequently created the chapter one mp4 that I then found stopped short of the needed action. My next step was to set the program to convert the whole thirty-five minute movie to mp4 with the MPEG-4 Video codecs, then go to bed. In the morning, though, I found the software had crashed and the "MP4" file would not open: I got an error message that said it was not a movie file.

    My next step was to bring the DVD and some blank DVD disks to work to see if I could go to the University Libraries' Student Technology Assistance Center (STAC) to burn a copy with the hope that perhaps the flaw would be corrected in that process. A long shot, but a worthy attempt. Meanwhile I was thinking of what other little, goofy improv bit I might conjure up and tape.

    This really has become an eleventh hour project, more like an 11:45 project.

    A friend at work suggested I temporarily install a copy of the DVD ripper software on a Mac in the Mac lab on campus and see if I could grab the last part of chapter one from an iMac, those on campus being more powerful than my Power Mac at home. So I did download the installer to try that, too, as well. The Mac lab had an art class in it, all day, Mon-Fri until 4:30. So I installed it on an Imac out in a public area, but the program would not open -- I believe it was a security measure on the machine that got in my way.

    The final action to capture the Drosselmeier song was taken into the said STAC room with the good support of a helpful student assistant who works there. Yet, my goal was not met. In STAC the strategy was to play the DVD on a source DVD player and capture the portion I wanted using iMovie. Then I saved the resulting clip as a Quicktime movie file (".mov"). Monday evening I discovered that, believe it or not, my FinalCut Express would not allow me to import the dot-mov file. I had to convert it to an mp4 with a proper mpeg codecs, and finally -- FINALLY! -- I could import it into my FinalCut project.

    What was it that defeated my goal? There was no audio.

    Surrendering to the inevitable, or, admitting my impatience, I ditched the idea of including the song. I had to edit out my reference in the slate to the Drosselmeier performance, and I covered the resulting jump cut by superimposing a head shot over that edit spot. The Drosselmeier performance wasn't all that great, any way. So, my finished audition reel has only the Prof. Snicklefritz improv along with a few stills of some of my favorite headshots. I burned the DVD at lunch time today and it will be in the mail to Roof-Goenner soon.

      *JUMP CUT: A CUT INVOLVING AN INTERRUPTION TO THE CONTINUITY OF TIME, WHERE THE IMAGE IN A SHOT CLOSELY MATCHES THE IMAGE OF THE PREVIOUS SHOT -- (IMDb Movie Terminology Glossary).

    Itself, the improv bit doesn't impress nor satisfy me fabulously, but, as we know, I am a harsh self critic.


    IMPROV MOVIE PROJECT (WST: BAR FLYING):

    One of the principals for the scheduled shoot this coming Saturday had to cancel. We were going to a vignette of Kate and Dave at home, but Gino had to cancel. That's the game when you're trying to shoot close to the Christmas holiday. I was scheduled to location scout the apartment proposed as the set, and I still am going to do that. We have hopes to shoot the Kate and Dave at home sequence in January.

    At this point we are still slated to shoot Rev. Washburn, Jeremy Davenport and Celeste Balboni-O'Donnell on the 20th -- Duante Beddingfield, Brett Taylor and Crystal Justice, respectively. This will be that official shoot in the bar area at the DTG Wayne, Ave. basement, which will be the barroom at Balboni's Casa di Pizza.


    PRE-PRODUCTION FOR THE GUILD:

    I'm also in the early stages of pre-production for both The Cashier and Fuddy Meers for DTG. Both shows have set designers and I have feelers out for other crew members as well as a list of people who have expressed interest.



    Thu Dec 11, 2008

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    AUDITION DVD REEL FOR THE FULL-TIME SHOWBIZ JOB:

    K.L. Storer as Prof. Snicklefritz in improv video audition The DVD is in the mail. I popped it into my DVD player last night to watch it (inspect it) before I sent it off. Of course, I HATE watching myself perform on screen, usually. I didn't "hate" this, but I wasn't overwhelmed by my brilliance, either.

    I also had put my name in key matte titles in the lower quarter of the screen at the end of the clip (see the image here). I had forgotten to take into account the zone at the parameter of the frame that usually is lost when on a TV screen, especially an older TV screen that will only accommodate a full screen (4:3) picture. Ironically, the clip is 4:3, but still the outer area is often lost.

    On my screen at home, The "K.L." in "K.L. Storer" is off screen. If the auditors watch the DVD on a newer TV that accommodates wide screen TV and movies (9:16), then they will likely see all the name.

    I placed my name center screen in bigger font at the start of the video, so this frame parameter problem is only a minor glitch. It is a consideration I need to stay on top of in a better way as I edit movies and videos, however.



    Sat Dec 13, 2008

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    slating Balboni's Casa di Pizza vignette for improv movie experiment
    Balboni's Casa di Pizza vignette for improv movie experiment
    Prison Visits vignette for improv movie experiment
    Prison Visits vignette for improv movie experiment
    IMPROV MOVIE PROJECT -- two points:

  • Need "Extras" for a Shoot Next Saturday Afternoon

      Next Saturday, December 20, we will see Jeremy Davenport (Brett Taylor) meet with his best friend since high school, Rev. Marcus Washburn (Duante Beddingfield). They will be in the bar area of Balboni's. Celeste Balboni-O'Donnell (Crystal Justice) will be there, interacting with Jeremy and Marcus. The set, of course, will be the bar area in the basement of the Dayton Theatre Guild facility on Wayne Avenue. Remember how I said I would be loath to not shoot in that area after having spent all the effort and budget on art department work for a shoot in there?

      To that end I need somewhere between six to twelve people (more maybe) to fill in the background. The extras will be other patrons at Balboni's. They will interact in their groups in mos *(without sound). They will pantomime conversation and socialization.

      We need people who can be at the right level of animation, meaning, some animation so they look like patrons in the bar area of a restaurant but not becoming so interesting as to pull focus from the principals of the scene. And they will need to be skilled enough to appear completely oblivious of the scene going on in the foreground as well as be able to ignore the cameras. In other words, we don't need great actors but they need a competent level of savvy.

      What we will then do is record conversation ambiance of the whole group (crowd noise) when we are done with the shoot of the action; actually, probably everyone on set will participate in this audio production. That will then later be dropped in under the edit of the main action -- that way I have independent sound level control over the principal actors and the room noise.

      Production will not go past 6 p.m. -- and I would guess it'll be wrapped much earlier than that. I anticipate this scene being about 30-45 minutes of shooting, plus the time it takes to record the audio of the crowd noise.

      Anybody who would want to be involved as an extra for this scene, let me know: KL_Storer@yahoo.com

  • What's Next

      Clearly, if you've read some of the later blog entries you know that the idea of wrapping this whole project up by the end of the year has now been rethought. First of all I have seen ways to develop and connect these independent improv vignettes together into something that will simulate cohesiveness. Second, there are a few actors I want to include in the project who either I could not work in yet or who were not available but will be as the new year begins. Third, I recognized a potential follow-up for the Kate and Dave characters (Elena Monigold and Gino Pasi) that we had slated for today but which had to be cancelled.

      Here's where I want to go after the start of the year:

        - to see Kate and Dave again in that vignette that features them, alone,

        - to see Grady and Celeste (Wayne and Crystal Justice) after his release from incarceration, with the inclusion of some of those bad influence friends of Grady's against whom Celeste railed during her visit with him at the prison. Probably more than one scene/vignette.

        - to see Marcus' fiancé, Marian, whom has thus far been only mentioned.

        - to meet the infamous Devon Cooper, older sister to Kate and Jeremy and favorite child of Leola; maybe also her hard core fundamentalist Nazarene minister husband Roscoe. I had originally not planned to include her, in the flesh, but see an opportunity to cast someone in the role whom I am sure can do good things with the character.

        - another character to interact with Marian in a scene I had only a vague concept of when I started this whole project -- not that I have developed it to a whole concept at this point.




  • Thu Dec 18, 2008

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    slating Balboni's Casa di Pizza vignette for improv movie experiment BAR FLYING:

    I have several people on board to populate the bar for Saturday's shoot, but I wish I had more.

    Meanwhile, a few other developments. For one thing, I had plans last night to scout an apartment for use as the set for the Kate and Dave at home sequence. I had to cancel though, which is the second time that had to happen. The reason was the major hazardous ice conditions Tuesday night in the Dayton area. Now enter the holiday party today at my rent-paying job and my obligation to bring a crock pot of three-cheese tuna in rice and pasta. Hey, I can't make a lot of dishes but what I can make, I can make well.

    My intention was to go grocery shopping for the fixinís after work Tuesday. The threat of the bad roads made me rethink how soon I headed for the homestead. It seemed clear that the later I was out the worse driving would be. I was correct. I left work at 5:00, heading for my apartment, eleven miles away. After a drive where I had to make two detours because of impassable roads and averaged about fifteen mph, I pulled into a parking spot at home about 6:30.

    Needing to cook the fantabulous entré last night, I also needed to slip the grocery shopping into the slot I had made for the location scouting. But we won't shoot that scene until January so I have some time to finally get over to the place.

    Tonight I will shop for the Saturday shoot. Some food props, mostly sodas to double as beer and liquor and a few sodas products that may end up being soda products. Plus, I'll provide some craft cart sort of snacks for cast and crew, too. Then we will also need some more DV cassette tapes, the afore-mentioned vital ingredient in a DV taping.

    Friday evening it'll be production set-up time. I'll be mounting those 4x8 foam mirror masks and DP Fred will be into set lights.

    Once again, production day is the same day as the DTG board meeting. And this time the meeting will be at the Salem Avenue theatre. But it is planned to be short and I should be on set by 10:00 or 10:30 at the latest.

    As far as the bar crowd, I have some people, but I'd love tp have more. I want to give the sense of a busy establishment, and I may still be able to do that with the group I am pretty sure I'll have on hand, but more would be better.


    ON OTHER FRONTS:

  • Nice Thing to Hear From Your Agent -- Got a call from Jim at Roof-Goenner Tuesday to let me know that they had the DVD reel for that full-time job audition and that they liked it quite a bit. That's gratifying, especially since I was not so sure it was all that good. I don't think it sucks, but I am not enchanted with it. It is nice to get such good feedback, however.
  • Fuddy Meers -- I've begun to read the Lindsay-Abaire play, mostly as producer, but with an eye out for roles I might audition for. There seem to be several for me. A theatre colleague is urging me to consider Limping Man and from what I've read thus far, he does seem like a juicy role.
  • Hamlet at Springfield StageWorks -- The auditions for the spring production will take place Jan 5 & 6. I have been torn about this. The opportunity to do Shakespeare is one I have been looking for. The timing is less than ideallic for me, however. Rehearsal will be underway by late January and will run for around twelve weeks. Whereas that makes sense for this show, I also need to keep some time open to continue and then wrap the Bar Flying project. I'm not as concerned about being theatre producer in the spring; I've produced theatre productions while being in rehearsal for others without problems, so the time frame running closer to the opening of The Cashier is not as big of a concern. But I would really liked to have production of the movie wrapped in February or sooner and then concentrate on editing.

    Yet I am drawn to the Hamlet production. I know I really should let it pass, and that is most probably what I am going to do. But jeez.

    The audition info is at: springfieldstageworks.org/_wsn/page5.html.

  • Hey! Barry Dillar! -- Here's a thought.... The Sci-Fi Channel should pick up Pushing Daisies. It would be a perfect fit.


  • Fri Dec 19, 2008

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    BAR FLYING:
    slating Balboni's Casa di Pizza vignette for improv movie experiment

    "DOH!"  moment number 162,375 -- So yesterday, as I sat with colleagues in the group study area of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library where we were having our holiday luncheon, I listened to the buzz and hum of the conversations of the staff from all the Wright State University libraries and I realized I had missed a golden opportunity.

    There, at my feet, lay a perfect opportunity to record crowd ambiance. Not only for the scene we will shoot tomorrow, but just to have as a stock sound file. I had nothing to record with at my disposal or I would have. I am going to make a point to do so next time.

    On another front, I've picked up another production person, one who has camera experience. So I will either take Wayne Justice off camera to have him AD to control the flow of "bar customers" or I'll have either him or the other camera person, named Dara, floating around with the smaller three-chip DV camera I have checked out for the weekend. It's original purpose was to shoot the shooting, but I may use it as Camera 3, at least while the actual shoot is occurring. Depends on how many extras show up. Right now I don't think there is an overwhelming amount, so there may not be a lot of traffic in the background. That traffic is really what I want, to give the look and feel of a busy place, but ya gotta work with what ya got with which to work.

    And, speaking of the number of extras that may or may not be there tomorrow......

    CALL FOR MORE EXTRAS FOR THE MOVIE SHOOT
    TOMORROW, SATURDAY DEC 20,
    NOON UNTIL NO LATER THAN 6:00 P.M.

    PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG IF YOU ARE NOT PERSONALLY INTERESTED

    Tomorrow, extras are needed to fill out the bar area in the scene we're shooting for the project.

    The extras will be other patrons in the bar area of Balboni's. They will interact in their groups in mos *(without sound). They will pantomime conversation and socialization.

    We need people who can be at the right level of animation, meaning, some animation so they look like patrons in the bar area of a restaurant but not becoming so interesting as to pull focus from the principals of the scene. And they will need to be skilled enough to appear completely oblivious of the scene going on in the foreground as well as be able to ignore the cameras. In other words, we don't need great actors but they need a competent level of savvy.

    What we will then do is record conversation ambiance of the whole group (crowd noise) when we are done with the shoot of the action; actually, probably everyone on set will participate in this audio production. That will then later be dropped in under the edit of the main action -- that way I have independent sound level control over the principal actors and the room noise.

    The call for cast arrival is Noon. Production will not go past 6 p.m. -- and I would guess it'll be wrapped much earlier than that. I anticipate this scene being about 30-45 minutes of shooting, plus the time it takes to record the audio of the crowd noise.

    Anybody who would want to be involved as an extra for this scene, let me know.



    Mon, Dec 22, 2008

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    Storer and Boomer during Balboni bar shoot THE BLOG ENTRY FOR THE THIRD SHOOTING DAY FOR BAR FLYING WILL BE POSTED ASAP:

    Once again, as that for the first weekend of official principal photography, it'll take a few days to get the account of this latest day written.

    I will say that it went well, though we had far fewer extras than I wanted.


    STILL ME DVD:

    The Still Me retail DVD is releasing January 7. Pre-orders are being taken now. It's marked at $14.99 plus shipping and handling which brings the cost of one copy to $18.24 before any local sales tax that might be attached.

    To order a copy, go to brookwoodfilms.com/buy.html.

    If you do buy a copy, put my name in the comment field of the form. We cast and crew are involved in a promotional contest where for each ten sold that are attributed to us, our names are in a drawing to go to the Oscars in late February. If you remember, the film is submitted to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for consideration as a nominee in the category of live action short film. The attendance is contingent on the movie garnering a nomination.

    I am not sure I could make the trip if my name was pulled, but I do want to help promote this Award Winning film and help rack up some sales. Also, please understand that this competition and it's win is limited to Still Me cast and crew members -- You can't enter; but you can purchase a great little film at a decent price.

    And no, I get no residuals from the sales.


    CATFISH MOON SET WORK:

    Yesterday, I dropped by the Guild's Salem building to help some with the set construction for our next show. Did the same last Sunday, where then, I dutched muslin* on the edges of overlapping platforms to create the illusion of a graduating hillside. Yesterday, I used a rag to swab a brown-green paint all over those platforms and the dutched slops, as one of the passes to paint it all to look like a muddy hill. That was over a deep pink someone had brushed on. The hill will get at least one more pass with another color, but I don't know whether it'll be another brownish tint or something greener that will represent grass. Whethers it's more work on that hill or whatever else is needed, I plan to help out at least once again over the forthcoming holiday weekend.

    *) To have "dutched muslin" means to have soaked it in paint then laid the fabric down so it would harden. The technique is most often used to cover the seams between two flats that are standing vertical to be the walls of a building on a theatre set. It's all then painted again and from a distance the seams disappear from view -- for the audience. It does not have to be muslin that it used, but muslin works most effectively.
               In this case, my job was to take the paint soaked fabric and make slops to help create that illusion of a hill.
               The use of the word "dutch" like this may be a theatrical lexicon item specifically regional -- or it may be isolated as a use at DTG. In a web search, I found no definitions that match what I wrote here. But I did not make a thorough search, either. Although I did find "Dutchman," described as
    Tape or material used to cover the seams between flats or to cover hinges, prior to painting. That shows our local use is at least derived from something more universal to the theatre world in general.


    Tue, Dec 23, 2008

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    BAR FLYING:
    Storer and Boomer during Balboni bar shoot THE BLOG ENTRY FOR PRODUCTION DAY NUMBER THREE IS IN THE WORKS

    MORE OR LESS RANDOM AND LIKELY NOT VERY INTERESTING STUFF FROM A MENTALLY IMPAIRED MAN WHO'S DOWN SICK WITH A COLD

    1. Being Sick Sucks -- Yeah yeah, I'm stating the obvious. Anyone reading this who was on the set Saturday might be inclined to say, "Well, well, that's what you get for not turning the heat up." (More on that later in that forthcoming report). I was already coming down with the cold that day, however. Though I couldn't argue the point that the David-Letterman-like temperature on set didn't play a role in my missing fourteen of my scheduled sixteen hours at the rent paying job this week.
                 Didn't feel great, but also not awful on Sunday. Spent most of the afternoon, as I wrote yesterday, at The Guild helping with set construction for Catfish Moon. Then I went to a social function and hung with Dayton theatre friends as well as others who were guests of the host. All I felt at that time was, as on Saturday, a bit of a scratchy throat. Monday morning, however, it was sneeze-and-cough frenzy time and I left work at 9 that morning. I had planned to go in a bit later today. Didn't seem like a good idea. I'm still cranking out those hardy coughs as I write this.
                 I'm wondering if I'll make it to the family gathering tomorrow. My Christmas shopping is not at all done. It'll be tomorrow, if it gets done.
    2. What Is The progress Of The Bar Flying Blog Entry? -- Have not written a word; but I am working on processing still images. When this is posted and you are reading it, I will likely have started the prose.
                 I'm probably the only one at all concerned about the progress.
    3. Buy A Still Me DVD --
      On sale for pre-order now

      "Is it possible to see someone you love for who they are,
      not for who you want them to be?"

      Still Me
      Scott King - Tina Gloss
      written & directed by Beth McElhenny

      * WINNER - Best Short Film Audience Award at
      The Big Bear Lake International Film Festival
      * WINNER - Best Family Film at The Secret City Film Festival
      * WINNER - Scott King for Best Actor at Spudfest Film Festival 2008
      * OFFICIAL SELECTION - Spudfest Film Festival 2008

      Submitted to the Academy for consideration of an Oscar nomination 2009

      brookwoodfilms.com/buy.html

    4. Grabbing Bar Flying Out-takes -- I'd intended to check-out from the campus library one of the three-chip DV cameras over this long weekend, so I could troll through all the raw footage looking for out-take material from all the shoots, including the test shoot. There are a lot I have not captured off the tapes and into FinalCut. Since I did not go to work today, this won't happen over this holiday weekend.
    5. Inside The Gatehouse DVD -- I just discovered yesterday that there is a DVD of our FutureFest 2008 performance of Bill Hollenbach's Inside the Gatehouse. Despite that the incredibly self-critical part of me makes it difficult for me to watch myself on screen, I do hope it's not too late to get a copy.
                 If for nothing else, it can serve as footage for future audition "reels."


    Wed Dec 24, 2008
    Christmas Eve

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    Today's entry is more for those who lean toward the Western Christian faiths. Though, strictly speaking, it's not a "Christian" story.

    "'Twas the Night Before Christmas"
    By Clement Clarke Moore

    'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
    Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
    The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
    In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

    The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
    While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
    And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
    Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

    When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
    I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
    Away to the window I flew like a flash,
    Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

    The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
    Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
    When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
    But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

    With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
    I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
    More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
    And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

    "Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
    On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!
    To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
    Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

    As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
    When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
    So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
    With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

    And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
    The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
    As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
    Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

    He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
    And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
    A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
    And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

    His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
    His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
    His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
    And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

    The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
    And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
    He had a broad face and a little round belly,
    That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

    He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
    And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
    A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
    Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

    He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
    And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
    And laying his finger aside of his nose,
    And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

    He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
    And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
    But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

    "HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL,
    AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!"


    Thu Dec 25, 2008
    Christmas

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    MERRY CHRISTMAS! - K.L.




    Today I wish a Christian sentiment, because, well, I am a Christian and the Christian Christmas is my holiday.





    Fri Dec 26, 2008

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    Happy Holidays! Whatever holiday means Love and Peace to you and yours - K.L.







    WEIRD DREAMS:

    Some of you are aware to one extent or another than I am a recovering alcoholic who's been in recovery for more than twenty-six years; at least enough recovery to have not indulged in drink or drug. I mention this because I used to frequently have what is called in the world of recovery "drunk dreams." These are dreams where those who have found recovery from addiction have REM dreams in which they are using. These dreams take on many themes and moods for particular addicts. I was rarely actually using in mine. Usually in mine, I was around fellow recovering friends but with the secret knowledge that I had either relapsed back into using or had never actually stopped; in my dreams I am fronting, I am not in recovery and I am desperate that the others will discover me. The longer I have stayed sober the less frequent these dreams have become. It's been quite a while since I've had one that I can remember, perhaps a year or two.

    I mention these only to segue into these weird-assed acting dreams I have had a habit of having. I actually had many more during the twenty-six indefensible years when I was disrespecting myself by ignoring the craft as an endeavor. The scenario there was usually that my old high school drama teacher, Chuck Scott, was directing a play and someone had to drop out of the cast at the last minute. I was asked to replace the guy. It's always a few minutes before the opening curtain and I cannot remember a single line of dialogue.

    After my tardy-assed return to acting I had variations on that theme as well as other, completely different dreams. In one, I and a specific actress I know were in a play together at the Guild, only it wasn't The Guild. We are on a platform stage in a living room set that is set up with all the furniture facing away from the audience. We are on the couch, our characters having some sort of argument. The director, again, a specific man I know, suddenly stops the action and fires us both on the spot.

    THEN I WOKE UP

    Still, in the last four years I have had far fewer Acting Dreams than during my self-imposed self-betrayal period. But, I had a new one last night. In this one I am at some sort of a presentational function. The audience is a mix of theatre people I know and actual card-carrying professional stars. Now, I am conscious that both these groups are there and are, somehow in this dream, amalgamated into the same group, but I cannot recall a single local Dayton theatre person's nor big-time celebrity's face from the dream. I just have this knowledge that these are who are there.

    At some point, I, as a member of the audience, am approached to take over an improvizational, send-up performance of a celebrity, as part of the entertainment. There is this woman, rather heavy-set, sitting close by, whom I do not know, who was to do this routine. But the producers of the event have asked me to do it and this rather large lady is quite pleased to allow me to take her place.

    It sounds like the vaguely distinguishable producer tells me I am to do a gag about Al Rooker. The lady sitting close by then hands me a jacket made of shiny gold fabric to wear. I am wondering how that works for an impersonation of Al Rooker.

    So, I am sitting there, brain storming how to do an improvizational send off of Mr. Rooker. I think of Ryan Stiles doing the weather reporter on "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" I have just about settled on what I am going to do when the evening's MC -- who is a well-known celebrity I just can't completely recognize -- introduces me as the "Grammy-Award-winning Anne Keller!!!!" I have no clue who Grammy-Award-winning Anne Keller is! In fact, I actually did a web search today. I found no Anne Keller in the music business. So, there I am, about to go up on stage in front of several hundred of "my peers" to improv a send-up of a person I have never heard of, wearing a tacky gold jacket.

    THEN I WOKE UP

    I did have two pieces of Dutch apple pie before I went to bed. Maybe that was it.



    Sat Dec 27, 2008

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    wst -- BAR FLYING:
    THE THIRD PRODUCTION DAY

    Cast and crew during the shooting of the Balboni's bar scene

    Balboni's bar set the night before
    The set for Balboni's bar the night before the shoot. Fred and I erected flats with faux wood paneling to cover up the opening between rooms.
    The Wayne basement bare of all movie set
    Essentially the same view as above after all the movie set has been struck.
    Prop booze bottles in the sink
    One person's trash is a theatre's props.
    The packet of Kool-Aid to make the red wine
    This time the red wine was cherry Kool-Aid®
    Water pitchers, borrowed from the Guild's kitchen on Salem Avenue
    These are the pitchers we use during performances at the Guild for intermission refreshments, usually cold water. For the shoot they became pitchers of "beer" -- i.e.: Vernors® ginger soda.
    Balboni's bar shoot
    In the foreground, Brett Taylor, Duante Beddingfield and Loren S. Goins.
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Crystal Justice and Duante
    bar patron Chazz
    Chazz
    bar patron Barbara L. Henkaline
    Barbara L. Henkaline
    bar patron Honey Rountree
    Honey Rountree
    bar patron Laurie M. Shear
    Laurie M. Shear
    bar patron Mike Sopronyi
    Mike Sopronyi.
    bar patron Jeri Williams
    Jeri Williams.
    Director of Photography, Fred Boomer
    Fred Boomer.
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    That's NOT the half-rate lawyer, about to walk behind Rev. Washburn. That's some other guy, another patron who'se going to the restroom.
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    A reversal shot of Quincy.
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    (Thu Dec 25) -- It's 2:59 in the afternoon of Christmas Day as I finally get to the prose for this entry. That prediction, that when the Dec 23 entry was posted and you were reading it, I would have likely have started the prose, turned out to be false, unless you didn't read that entry until mid afternoon today or later. Here I am, back in MS Word, writing an essay or whatever to eventually copy-&-paste over into Text Wrangler. I'd write it in Corel WordPerfect 3.5E for Mac but I don't want to have to fire up OS9, so here I am using Word only because it is expedient. Expedience is almost always a correlation with the compromise of quality, ethics and high standards, or some mixture or variation of these, and at least "quality" and "standards" apply here as having been compromised.

    I'm still under the weather but alive and I did attend the family holiday gathering on Christmas Eve. The last several days, on the other hand, have seen me in bed quite a bit. Today I didn't arise until noon. I did then sit down to my computer, and after some banking and other miscellaneous business, I did start on this blog entry, but before I got to writing the account, I picked the first seventeen pictures, the headline pic and the first sixteen for the right column. That actually runs pretty far down the web page and I wonder if this time I will have enough prose. It occurs to me as I write this that you may not see sixteen images to the right; some may have been cut, or perhaps moved to below the prose.

    One thing I do to help the images fit is write prose padding like this right here, you see -- it's a total breach of the rules of good writing, but then, perhaps I'm not all that good of a writer.


    On Friday the 19th, DP Fred Boomer and I put together about 97% of the Balboni's bar set. As is usually the case, before I went to the Wayne facility I dropped into the Salem Guild building to grab some props: a whole lot of liquor and beer bottles; three glass pitchers that are commonly used for the cold water at intermission of performances; packets of cherry Kool-Aid® and a bag of sugar (which served as the rosé this time rather than simple red food coloring in water); one of our twelve-cup coffee makers (to brew tea to serve as various whiskeys and such -- and to brew coffee for the cast and crew); several types of alcoholic drinking glasses; a phone; probably a few other items I am not remembering right now. Oh , yes, I needed a hand drill.

    My first action upon the scene at Wayne Avenue was to use that hand drill to mount the 4x8 sheets of painted foam to mask the mirrors in the bar area. Because we moved the principal action down the bar a bit, closer to the kitchen and bathroom areas, I also moved the painted foam mask from the mirrored pillar it had been on to the other one. I wanted one camera to shoot from a pov (point of view) that would have the bathroom doors in the background. That way I could have extras travel to and fro on occasion. Meanwhile, Fred set the lights.

    If I had thought I was going to have a lot of extras, I would have made a conscious decision to leave the opening between the bar area and the back room, where we shot the original Balboni's restaurant scene, and I'd have populated it with diners. That would have taken more time, planning and thought than I'd given the whole need for extras. As it was, I realized Friday night that we should darken or close up that hole between the rooms. We were able to borrow, courtesy of Entertainment Unlimited, several flats with faux wood paneling that we used to create a wall in that hole.

    We mostly got the bar tables in place on Friday night, too. Fred suggested we take one of the two 4x8's I had painted with squares and created a faux entrance way off to screen left in the background. By the shoot on Saturday he had added the other like 4x8 to hinge around a table. As it turned out, it doesn't look exactly like an entrance way because the area behind it, to the far left on screen ended up not being darkened out on screen as it should have been -- more on that later. These 4x8s do give a good look on screen. I am not sure what the structure is supposed to be, but I guess the viewer can image the function or purpose.

    The white cloth sheets we had draping the bar tables were too hot for the cameras; it was clear we needed something else. On the way home that night, it was early enough that the Dollar General store close to my house was still open. I popped in and got several green Christmas table cloths. Two of the four were vinyl rather than fabric, and as I suspected might be the case, we did find those two reflected light a tad bit. So Fred placed one where it would be in a shadow, and we used the tan one from the first shoot in place of the other.

    At the checkout counter was when I realized two of the four were vinyl. Thinking out loud I said something like, "Oh, man, I wonder if that's going to..." The checkout clerk assured me that the vinyl would be much easier to clean. Then I told her my concern was how shiny they were, that they were for a movie set and I was more concerned about how they would look on screen. The look on her face suggested that she was skeptical of me.

    Mr. K.L. "Hollywood" Sonnenfeld!

    Saturday morning, before the DTG Board meeting, which this month was at the Salem theatre, I stopped by the Wayne building to let Fred in. He braced the faux wood wall flats more securely and did a few other things. The night before I had left all the booze bottles soaking with soap in them. I didn't know how the action of the improv was going to play out and I didn't want an actor having a drink poured for him or her from a dirty vessel. One of my first jobs on site Saturday was to finish that cleaning process.

    We also again had the food prop of Balboni's pizza. This time it was a large pizza from Tony's Pizza, owned by Crystal's cousin. And this time I remembered to bring the round silver serving tray that I had forgotten for the first Balboni's pizza last month. Not that the tray was terribly prominent in this sequence. The pizza eaters are off in the background, but the plate had value for the cut-away close ups of these diners.

    *Here, on Christmas Day, as I look at the time in the far upper-right corner of my computer screen, I note it is 4:30 and I realize I have not eaten yet today. That seems like a pretty good idea. So I take a break from pretending to be a writer and attack some of the care package sent home with me from my sister's yesterday.

    5:15 p.m.: I'll have you know that there is a marathon of Myth Busters on TV right now, and I sat down and watched segments whilst I ate but as soon as I was done I turned off the TV and came back to the Mac. You may not appreciate the accomplishment here, but believe me, it was one.

    For the Balboni's Casa di Pizza bar vignette, we did shoot three-camera the way I suggested a few days back we might. Unfortunately, there are no good images from the day of our other two camera operators, Dara Bornstein (camera 1) and Wayne Justice (camera 3). Wayne, of course, there are pics of from the Prison Visits shoot and also older ones from the Endgame pics page. Dara is someone I have only known as a mild acquaintance in the past, someone I would and do see on campus, usually at the coffee machines in the basement under the library. For this project I actually connected with her through a mutual friend on campus who suggested her as a possible production crew addition. When I approached her through email I did not know that she was the same person I saw around occasionally, though I figured I would recognize the face when she showed up on set. Neither of us connected faces with names for each other until she walked in about 10:30 Saturday morning.

    The count of extras for the shoot was, as I was afraid it would be, much, much, much smaller than I wished it to be. There ended up being six extras: Chazz, who works on campus and responded to the call I posted on the university announce list serve; Barbara L. Henkaline, who came through a courtesy notice that Roof-Goenner sent out for me; Honey Rountree, also from campus; Laurie M. Shear, again through Roof-Goenner; Mike Sopronyi, who, of course, directed and co-wrote the screenplay for Ghostbusters: Spook University and did this as a favor to me; and lastly, the lovely and talented Jeri Williams, whom I worked with in The Best Man at the Guild last year. Jeri, by the way, is currently in rehearsal, along with Brett and Duante, for the forthcoming production of Larry Gelbart's Sly Fox at Beavercreek Community Theatre.

    Seven people actually showed to be extras but I upgraded one to the role of the bartender. Also from the Spook University project, Loren S. Goins is the other co-writer of the screenplay and was a lead as one of the GB team. For me, he became a character named Quincy, so named by Ms. Henkaline, who blurted out the name when I said to Loren, "Okay, what's your name going to be?" I had told Loren already that I would probably put him in that role. As I wrote before, I wanted the bartender to be one of the buddy's Celeste warned Grady about hanging with when he is released from prison. The drama of conflict as Celeste warns Quincy to watch his ass when Grady gets out seemed like a good thing to throw into the mix of the Balboni's bar segment.

    There are, I think, a few reasons why the count of extras was so low. First, it was the Saturday before Christmas, which was going to automatically be a conflict for a lot of people. Second, I didn't really get the call out far enough in advance, especially since the shoot was five days before Christmas. I also missed a lot of good venues to get the call out. I did send the call out to as many actors' emails as I had; though my collections of actors' emails are all so scattered that I am willing to bet I missed a big chunk of them, and there are a certain amount I am privy to not from my own gathering and I am reluctant to send to them because it would essentially be spam on my part. As reflected above, I also sent the call on the announce list serve on campus at Wright State University. Plus, I put it out on my MySpace account as a bulletin to all my friends there (which is not a big list to begin with and some on the list are a crossover with some of the other venues I used).

    Lastly, as big as my ego is, I know that I am not some local theatre arts person with a big, stellar and long-standing reputation; a lot of people probably did not take it terribly seriously or did not think of it as some fabulous opportunity to seize upon: no worries there on my part; no one had any reason to jump on it as a golden chance and I have no reason to have expected they do so.

    With Loren behind the bar as Quincy and only six others to put in the background of the shots, the bar at Balboni's became less crackling with business than I had hoped to present it on screen. Had there been, say, twenty or twenty-five, or more, Wayne would have served as an AD and would have been off to the side sending extras across the screen behind the principals for the duration of the shoot. That wasn't necessary or viable under the circumstance, so I put Wayne behind the bar counter with the small three-chip DV recorder to get more freely hand-held shots of the principals and the principal action. He got more direct-on shots and more close-ups (CUs) and extreme close-ups (ECUs).

    With this smaller group of extras, I changed a couple production procedures from what I'd had planned. I did not have them act in mos in the background (pantomiming dialogue). Instead I had them speak at lower voice levels. We did a sound and level check before we started shooting and then as we shot, they had real conversations at sound levels that were good for background noise. For one thing, since I have such a small group of bar patrons, throwing a mesh of background voices in would not be practical. I am not going to have a suggestion of dozens or several dozens of people's voices in the background without a visual suggestion of such a crowd. Had I been able to have a constant flow of traffic in the background, of a lot of different faces, then it would have worked. Then, with such a cacophony of background voices, it would not look odd to see people back there speaking and not hear voices that seem to correlate with the movement of the lips.

    Clearly, I had to shoot this as if the patronage was light, and pretty much who you see in the background is probably most of those in the bar. The voices back there are light. Now, when you see lips move, there needs to be an audible correlation. I did not want to have to worry about Foley sound for that in post production. So, now, if you see Jeri Williams laugh, you will hear Jeri Williams laugh, and all I have to do is, well, nothing. The visual and audible are already synced.

    I also did not have the extras stay to do the bar ambiance audio recording after we were done shooting, either. I am going to find and buy some, I think. I will want it light anyway. It has occurred to me to have distant sounds of the restaurant area, as well. I had intended to get several audios of Loren as Quincy, answering the phone, to drop in at times while he's off screen, but I forgot about it, but I will do that. He's on campus and I see him almost every day so there will be no problem getting such.

    With Wayne on camera 3, I saw that we could get some reversal shots*. Rather than waiting until later, we got the shots as the needs arose. It usually had to do with some action by Quincy that seemed good to get from a better pov. What we did was simply stop the action right then and flip the shot set up around. That way the improvizational dialogue and the emotional level and intent were still fresh for the actors. It plays a little bit against the idea of shooting multiples of the same action, but does not betray the whole approach we have been making.

      *) REVERSAL: AKA Reverse Angle or Reverse shot. A shot taken at a 120-180 degree angle from the preceding shot. When used in dialogue scenes, reversal editing usually alternates between over-the-shoulder shots that show each character speaking.

    Almost all the reversal takes had to do with times when Quincy and Celeste were engaged, and in one case, it was that particular conflict that was the whole reason I brought Quincy into the vignette in the first place. Quincy will be back in at least one more sequence, along with at least one other of those bad apples Celeste wants Grady to steer clear of.

    Again, we got good work from the actors and we got good work from the extras. I did have to occasionally gesture to the extras to lower their levels, but the truth is I actually did so slightly before they got too loud. With camera 2 (Fred) trained on an angle to show the bathrooms, I did make sure a few trips were made there. I made the first one. I contemplated the fact that I have already appeared on screen as the lawyer in a Prison Visit sequence. But since then I have gotten a hair cut plus I was in a suit in the prison scene. This time I also had a cap on. Plus I am background this time, so I don't think the risk is there.

    When I came out of the bathroom I went to the table where I had sat four of the six and talked with Mike. That conversation is actually behind the pillar so I am not even seen. I told Mike to wait about two or three minutes then go to the bathroom. Later, when we stopped, I think it was for a reversal, but it may have been one of a few times I stopped the principals to correct an error in story-line fact, I told Barbara to also go to the bathroom. Brett, as Jeremy, also went to the bathroom at one point so we could clear the way for a discussion between Marcus and Celeste.

    All the principals were excellent about working with things. They all had ideas for their characters and even presented me with good challenges to what I had set up for them. I sent Jeremy to the bathroom because Duante believed that Marcus would not have the conversation I wanted him to have with Celeste about Grady if Jeremy was there. He had a good point. And Crystal was very good about how Celeste would confront Quincy about Grady. I set up the idea that Quincy was there and finds out Grady is getting out. I set up that she lets him know to watch himself. But what came out of her mouth was all her and it was good stuff.

    Both Crystal and Loren were good about going about the bar and doing what a manager and a bartender would do. Tables were cleared. At one point Celeste tells Quincy that the table with the four people needs another pitcher of beer. It took a little on the spot communication between me and Loren but I got it across that there were cans of Vernors to fill a glass pitcher with. And Quincy was there, in the back ground, taking care of the customers. These were all bits that did not come from the director.

    Concerning the new pitcher of beer, I actually crawled on the floor behind the main action, to stay off camera but get to the kitchen to help Loren with the ginger ale. Then I crawled back. I think there is no indication from any actor of this incognito action.

    Wayne was also good about grabbing many good cut-away shots for me. He pretty much did this on his own. At one point during a break while I was working an idea out with actors he went over and got good close ups of all the extras at their tables. I have some good cut-away shots and some initial establishing shots due to his initiative.

    As for what the patrons were conversing about: I told the extras to just get to know each other. Nothing they were saying would be distinguishable, so they were all just having real conversations. I think at one point during a cut-away close-up one actor did create a line, knowing that line might be audibly understandable. But, for the most part, they were people having real conversations about whatever, maybe even about what a dork their director is.

    Somewhere in here I suppose I should mention the fact that it was pretty frickin' cold on the set. That, itself, was probably mentioned in those conversations. Last week, for those who don't know, Midwest America was going into a deep freeze. We hit zero on Sunday in the Dayton area. It was pretty cold on Saturday. I did not turn the heat up in the building because it would have taken far too much time, energy and cost to get the basement area warm. I did not want to add to the utility bill for the building. I must admit, it was a little cooler than I had anticipated it would be. Fortunately, Fred brought a little space heater that he set up in the back room, behind the faux wooden walls. And the actors went back there to warm up on occasion. I hadn't thought to warn people that it would be cold. As I said, I hadn't realized it would be quite as frigid as it was, to begin with.

    *Aw, geez! Now, here it is, 11:06 p.m. and it's clear to me I am not about to be finished with this pseudo-prose work here. My goal is to post this on December 26, but it's starting to look like if it is the 26th, it will not be the morning.

    And now I am off to bed.


    (Fri Dec 26) -- It's a dreary, rainy afternoon, the day after Christmas. The first thing I did when I got up today (late this morning)  was to write a recounting of the weird actor's dream I had *(see the Dec 26 blog entry). But, now, here I am, with hope, polishing off this particular essay-ish thing.

    To no personal shock, I'm not incredibly happy with my own work as director. I would give this third production day a C+ at best were I to be assigning a grade. That may be a bit generous, too. Perhaps a straight-on C or even a C- is more so in order, My harsh assessment has more to do with technical details than with work with the actors, though that does not come out unscathed in my adjudication of myself.

    Whereas I am ecstatic that Wayne had the instinct to grab cut-away shots, especially of the bar patrons, it strikes me that I did not, myself, bring that clearly essential necessity to mind. One would think it would be a matter of course for the director to ask for such shots. Had Wayne not taken the initiative, I would not have them -- unless Fred had interjected the need later. It also bugs me that I had decided I wanted audio of Loren (Quincy) answering the phone off-screen to drop in when it seems a good spot, then completely forgot about recording such. Yes, we have established that I can pick that up quite easily since Loren is usually close by on campus. But, damn it.

    Further, I had conceived of a shot of someone walking down the stairwell that leads to the restaurant area and opening the door to walk in. I completely forgot about it on Saturday. Again, I may be able to pick that up, but man! I was right friggin' there with all sorts of actors!

    These are all DOH! moments to add to the exponentially growing list.

    Another big lesson for me is that I need to keep more on top of what things will look like through the lens, as we are about to shoot. When the set was originally lit, there was a far wall, seen from camera 1. That wall is screen left, behind the brown partition area. This from the angle that puts Duante closer to the camera lens. That far wall was originally in deep shadow, so much so that the L partition appeared as an entranceway from another section of Balboni's, perhaps the restaurant area. Somewhere, somehow, things got re-lit and that far back wall became well-lit, complete with unsightly cables and wires hanging down. And the partition now appears more as a partition than a structural wall. Had I looked through all the camera lenses before we began to shoot, I would have seen this and we would have addressed it. But, I didn't and so the resulting inequity falls directly on my shoulders as the one to blame. Plus there are some harsh shadows in other shots that I could live without.

    There are also a few other things that, in some zoom levels, are in frame that I don't want there. On TV screens they would most probably not show. But viewed on a computer as a MP4 or a podcast in QuickTime or Windows Media Player that parameter of the screen will show. What I may be able to do is crop the shot in, if, as an editor, I feel that is the shot I want to use. But I have to be careful. Cropping too far in means zooming too far in, and the result is poorer resolution of which the compromised quality is clearly visible.

    No, I did not attend as much to the shots as a director should. And I am quite sure I was inadequate at communicating my ideals about the visuals. It's a fine line, too. You want to bring in good people who are good with the lens, who have the eye. If you are going to bring them in, it makes no sense to completely dictate their work. You don't bring in a chef then provide him or her with the entire menu and all the recipes. But you do get to say, "No red meat, and please have some sort of chocolate dessert," or whatever; and you do get the right to taste the dishes as the meal is being prepared. I was charged with the responsibility to be more proactive about the guidance toward what I wanted, at least in terms of elements that are specific to my visual concept and in terms of what I do and do not want.

    Now I did communicate some things well. Fred and I came to an agreement the lighting should be a bit moody and I think it is. I let everybody know I wanted them to change up the zooms and such on their shots. Wayne, of course, on the free hand-held, had an even more specific and pronounced directive for such, as it was inherent to the nature of the camera 3 assignment. All three cameras gave me good variety.


    (Sat Dec 27) -- To quote myself from the Dec 23 blog entry, "Being sick sucks." This cold has attacked my motivation and stamina with varying degrees of effectiveness. Now, here it is, mid-afternoon Saturday, the shoot is now a week old, and though I am sure I'll finally wrap this damned mara-blog, it will be posted far behind my targeted deadline. Make that deadlines, targeted deadlines, because I've missed a few already. I think I first imagined this being posted before Christmas Day. Ah, but here we are (here I am), the afternoon of the 27th, "Aquarius," by the Boards of Canada, blasting on my iTunes radio from Groove Salad on Soma FM, as I begin to contemplate how to express what I am happier about in terms of me as director of this project.

    That C- to C+ grade is not failing, you know. I remember an interview David Letterman gave, years ago, to Larry king, I believe, where they talked about how he paid little attention to his rave reviews but a lot of attention to the reviews that panned him or were at least less flattering. Letterman said that he learned nothing about getting better from the raves. His essential message to me was that it's far more important to know what you're doing wrong than what you are getting right.

    That doesn't mean I don't want to know what I am doing right in whatever field of artistic expression I am involved in at the moment. Improving means knowing what to improve, though. Which is why I tend to be, and sanction being, highly self-critical. But, I ultimately don't believe I suck even if I find particular moments where I have sucked badly or at the least could have been much, much, much, much better. There is some of that former and much of the latter.

    To focus only on what didn't work, what was inadequate, what was missing, that can quickly discourage one. I am easily enough discouraged already, sometimes going through bouts where I find this whole artistic venture to be one big, moronic joke. I, then, owe it to myself to risk megalomania on occasion to admit that I do some good work, even if often flawed.

    Saturday the 20th saw a director who was in charge of the day and created a collaborative atmosphere that invited creative thought and input from the rest of the team, both actors and crew. I worry that I was less attentive to the extras than I could have been, but I am sure I was not rude or unprofessional to them.

    Certainly I am a green freshman here, and it would be folly to neither recognize or admit it. But I think I am not terrible and I know I will get better, because I am open to and have the certain goal to do just so.

    Even though my ego hates that I am not:
    B R I L L I A N T !

    And now, because I just have so many great still frames I like, as well as straight-out photographs I took, here are more images from the day. And I have left out more than fifty other images from the day:

    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Baboni's bar set
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Baboni's bar set
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Baboni's bar set
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Balboni's bar shoot
    Basement of DTG on Wayne empty of movie set
    This and the following photos show the basement of the Dayton Theatre Guild, after the movie set has been struck.
    Basement of DTG on Wayne empty of movie set
    Balboni's bar area - gone
    Basement of DTG on Wayne empty of movie set
    Balboni's bar area - gone
    Basement of DTG on Wayne empty of movie set
    No more Balboni's Casa di Pizza
    Basement of DTG on Wayne empty of movie set
    No more Balboni's Casa di Pizza
    Basement of DTG on Wayne empty of movie set
    The only remnants of the movie: a desk and chair that were on site when the Guild bought the building. And, of course, the gray paint on the wall.


    NEXT FOR THE MOVIE PROJECT?:

    I still need to scout that apartment for a potential Kate and Dave scene, which I think can come about. The idea has bubbled up for Marcus to have a sit-down with Leola (Barbara Jorgensen) and Jeremy and Kate's uptight older sister, Devon (I have a 90+% confirmation on an actor for the role but will hold off stating who until I have 100% confirmation). There are still plans to visit with Grady and Celeste after Grady is released and I want to do something with Grady, Quincy and at least one other "bad influence." I also want to work at least one scene with Marcus's fiancé, Marian. I have another 90+% (maybe 99.99999999%) lock on that actor, too.

    I have told everyone that this is January stuff, but clearly it all cannot be. Some of these actors may be in a busier rehearsal time or have other conflicts and I am likely to have some conflicts as Dayton Theatre Guild house manager, since Catfish Moon is up in January. It's just going to be wait and see and consult the calendar a lot. This movie may be wrapped closer to spring than I had thought.


    MEANWHILE -- A REMINDER -- Buy A Still Me DVD --

    On sale for pre-order now

    "Is it possible to see someone you love for who they are,
    not for who you want them to be?"

    Still Me
    Scott King - Tina Gloss
    written & directed by Beth McElhenny

    * WINNER - Best Short Film Audience Award at
    The Big Bear Lake International Film Festival
    * WINNER - Best Family Film at The Secret City Film Festival
    * WINNER - Scott King for Best Actor at Spudfest Film Festival 2008
    * OFFICIAL SELECTION - Spudfest Film Festival 2008

    Submitted to the Academy for consideration of an Oscar nomination 2009

    brookwoodfilms.com/buy.html




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