Thursday, May 28, 2009

Whitsunday - Great Barrier Reef Diving

I don't have a lot of time, so I'll just skip to posting a few pictures. For the last three days we have been on a boat, SCUBA diving the outer great barrier reef. I conquered a huge fear by swimming with a shark (even though it was only a little one). I fully recommend booking your Whitsunday sailing trip through - they are one of the most expensive of the moderately priced options, but you absolutely get what you pay for. We sailed on a brand new catamaran called Wings III and it was a great experience.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Week In Sydney

The days have been just packed. We started out with three nights at a quaint little hostel in the red light district, but then moved to couch surfing when Clint got here. Three guys spending Five nights on someone's floor in their very nice one bedroom apartment is called overstaying your welcome. But it's been nice.

We'll be flying to Whitsundays tomorrow up North in the tropics and cruising for about three days around the islands. Arlie beach is supposedly a party place, however, we're moving into winter so I have a feeling it'll be a little more tame than in the peak months.

I'm having a great time traveling of course, looking forward to getting back to work when I get back to the states.

Did I mention I'll be moving back to Texas for a bit?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Our Lost Compact Flash Card

We took a 10 mile bike ride. We took the metro to Bondi Junction and then walked to Centennial Park to rent bicycles to ride over to Bondi Beach. Along the way, our CF memory card for our camera became full, so Jonathan switched it out for our other card. In Australia, we're shooting a pilot for a new television concept. We'd shot an entire day, our only sunny day in Sydney and everything was on that card. We rented the bikes, road to the beach, sat on the beach and ate lunch, rode back and then took the metro back home. We were all over the city that day. Two days later, I went to download the footage off the camera and one of the CF cards was gone. When I told Jonathan, he went white. He'd put the card in a little pocket on the side of the camera bag and it had slipped out while we were riding bikes. We both looked out the window, it had been raining for two days and it was nighttime. There was only one thing to do. The next morning, we woke up, got on the train to Bondi Junction and began to walk the path of our bike riding day. About a mile into the walk, along the path, near where we'd rented the bikes, Clint and I both spotted the little memory card in the grass along the path. Neither one of us could talk. The chances of finding such a small thing in an entire metropolitan city, are incredibly slim. But we found it and even after being rained on and sitting in the grass for two days, the card works.

I prayed, God came through. That's that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

More Than It Is - Production Stills - Part 1

In Sydney, Let's Catch Up

After camping for one night in Milford Sound, we back-tracked back to Queenstown, which we'd passed through on the way there. Queenstown is like a ski-village, just below The Remarkables mountains. It's situated on a large lake, completely surrounded by high snow-capped mountains in a little bowl. It's quaint and gorgeus. There is a steamship that putts along the lake with a big red smoke-stack. We slept there, in our campervan, the three of us, for 2 nights. Cherie went running along the lake, about 7 miles. She was listening to Sigur Ros and said she started crying because it was so beautiful. Jonathan and I went to the Kiwi museum and saw the funny birds. It was 35 New Zealand dollars, but I had a dream about the Kiwi so it was worth it (does that make sense?). We didn't shoot much in Queenstown, I could regret that, but we had a great time there. We decided to push through and drive straight back to Christchurch so we could get a good night's sleep on the 15th and then shoot all of our pickups all day on the 16th in Chrstchurch. I drove on the way back, so that Jonathan could shoot pickups of my character driving. On the way we saw a cute Japanese couple hitchhiking. Cherie and I were in character and she started saying that I should turn around and pick them up, so I did. I was nervous picking up hitchhikers, so we stopped and hid all of our things in case they were thieves. They turned out to be really sweet and it's going to make for a great scene in the movie. We slept for the night at our original hostel, Charlie B's and then set out to pick up all of the shots we'd missed on our first stretch in Christchurch. The craziest thing we did making this movie was only bringing one battery for our camera. We definitely could have shot a feature length movie, but we had to take a break every two hours to recharge our battery. We shot a major scene in the back courtyard of the hostel, broken up with recharging and then by the time we got to the cafe where we needed to pickup a quick transitional scene, the cafe was closed and it was nearly dusk. We shot it anyway and we were pretty much wrapped.

We went to bed, got a little sleep and Jonathan and I woke up at 5:30am to go to the airport. We hugged Cherie and left her there in the hostel and Jonathan and I went to the airport to start our trip to Sydney.

The mood of our movie took a big change for the better when Cherie, our lead actress found out via email that she'd been booked to shoot a chocolate commercial in Germany the day after we wrapped. The advertising agency flew her right out of Christchurch. While the 4 flights would take 2 days to complete, they booked her business class the whole way on Emirates Airways, so she got treated like a princess. We made her sleep in a campervan in the cold; they gave her the royal treatment. We're very grateful that she chose to be a part of our movie.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

We've Been Camping

We spent yesterday at a stunning place called Milford sound, one of the most dynamic Fjords in the world. We'll be in Queenstown tonight and should have internet access, so I'll try and update with pictures. We only have one scene left to shoot in the movie, then a couple of pickups in Christchurch. Today is the 13th, we leave in the morning on the 17th, so four more nights. We've been sleeping in our campervan for the last 3 nights, which has been surprisingly nice. New Zealand is a great place, very good backpacking infrastructure, I really love it here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The New Zealand Story

We're so far behind, let's try and catch up. On May 7th we arrived in Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand. None of us will ever experience May 6th 2009; because of the international date line, that day never happened for us. Kind of sad really. But we'll experience June 5th twice, so wrap your mind around that.

The day before we left, Jonathan and I wrote out our rough shooting schedule for the 10 day trip. The most important dramatic dialogue scenes all happen in Christchurch, so we decided to shoot all of those scenes the first three days of the trip. Because the movie starts and ends at the airport, we decided to attempt to shoot the opening and closing of the movie, at the airport, right when we landed. So that's what we did. We landed, we went put all of our bags under a table, cleaned up a bit and got to work shooting the scene at the airport. I'm not a trained actor in the first place, so shooting a fairly dramatic scene an hour after arriving off a 15 hour flight was a challenge. We knew that there was a chance that we could reshoot the scene on the 16th when we came back to Christchurch after our roadtrip, so that took the pressure off. But you never reshoot once you have it, you just don't. So we shot the scene and it went pretty good.

We took a bus to the hostel and shot what we could when we got there. Beth, our second actress was M.I.A. - no word from her. I emailed her in a panic and finally got a call late in the night. Her scenes were on May 8th, the second day of our trip. She showed up as promised and we borrowed two locations and shot her scenes. She was crazy-good. Just a delight. She beamed on camera. We've been watching her dailies and we literally scream when she nails her lines. I mean, this is a girl I didn't know, never had talked to, never even saw video of, not even a good picture, and she was just wonderful.

On May 9th, the third day, we tried to pick up all of the rest of the shots and scenes we needed in Christchurch. It was epic, too much. We missed one major exchange of dialouge, but we're either going to pick it up on the road, or go back and get it on the 16th, the day before we leave. That night, on the 9th, we went out to shoot a "going out" montage that would end with a dance sequence at a Drum and Bass club. It was exausting. We wanted to go out at about 8pm and just run from bar to bar, hopefully shooting th entire sequence in about two hours, but the clubs didn't even open until midnight, so our scene turned into a real night of going out. It was about 40 degrees out and pouring rain, and we had sensitive gear with us, walking around in the rain, so it was not easy. Johnny was a trooper and got exactly what we needed. It was magical, like Fantasia. Our movie blurs the lines of fiction and documentary, that's our secret. The trick is that it's mostly real. It is a documentary. It's also a scripted movie. Let that sink in.

This morning we picked up our campervan, a little RV. We headed South towards Queenstown, but didn't make it very far and ended up pulling into a nice little campsite with free wifi. The campervan is a manual transmission which I can't drive, but my character drives it, so I just hopped in and taught myself. I stalled twice, but I was driving on icy mountain roads, so I prayed, concentrated, drove slow and picked it up right away. They drive on the left side of the road here and the shifter and blinker are reversed, but it wasn't nearly as hard to pick it up as I thought it would be.

Tomorrow we drive to Queenstown, possibly 10 hours all the way to Milford Sound. Some storms have been blowing in from Antarctica, so it's started snowing, this is making shooting the movie quite grueling. But we've already shot about 70% of the scenes, and we have 6 or the 10 days left, so we're feeling relieved. We're having fun.

New Zealand is a fantastic place.

Oh yeah, here are some stills from the movie:

Friday, May 08, 2009

Christchurch After 2 Days

We hadn't locked down our workflow before we left. As a result, we had some technical difficulties. It was a very good thing, to buy the extra Compact Flash memory card, but only having one battery for our Canon 5D Mark II camera was a bad thing. When the battery goes below 50%, the video function doesn't work. So we almost missed a scene on the only day our second actress could work. When the camera was finally up however, the urgency somehow brought out something great. So far we've shot about 30% of the necessary scenes. We missed some stuff at the cafe because of the technical problems, but we are going back tomorrow to finish the coverage from a different angle. One thing is for sure, Christchurch is the cleanest, quantest urban city I've ever been to in the world. I love New Zealand so far. Supposedly, winds from Antarctica are blowing in tonight and it's going to get really cold for the next 3 days. I was shivering today as we shot a scene outside in the rain, so I'm not looking forward to more cold. We have an RV being delivered to us day after tomorrow and we're going to tour around the island for seven days in our own vehicle.

I'm going to be dead broke when I get back, but man, I'm having a good time.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Watching Movies

On Wednesday, I made it to The Newport Beach Film Festival to see the new documentary by filmmaker Brook Silva-Braga called One Day In Africa, a movie about a day in the life of 6 different people from 6 different African countries, it was very well done. His first movie, A Map For Saturday was a documentary about his year-long backpacking trip around the world, told through the eyes of other travelers he met along the way. It's a movie that I've watched over and over, so I was really excited to see his latest work. Brook was also in attendance, so I got to meet him and I'm happy to report, he is both a talented filmmaker and a great guy.

Tonight I went over to The Arclight Theater in Hollywood and watched the documentary film Tyson, which was getting great reviews at Sundance when I was there earlier in the year. I love that I live in a city where I can see movies like this in the theater. I don't love that the ticket was $14.50, but I guess that's the trade-off. It was fascinating to see Mike Tyson narrate his own story.

To prepare for our movie in New Zealand I've been watching A Map For Saturday, Before Sunrise, The Puffy Chair, Before Sunset and for some reason the classic films Jules et Jim and La Dolce Vita.

Man, I love movies.