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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pre-Production: Put a Ring on it (2hrs to go)

I'm the 1st on up and the last to bed. In 2 hrs I start the hardest shoot I've ever tackled. I'm a big jumbled mess of nerves and excitement.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Pre-Production: Put a Ring on it (3 Days to go) or Something’s gotta go right.


What a freakin weekend!

Ok, so we start shooting on the 27th. We had our 1st round of auditions 2 weeks ago (they didn’t go so hot). We were able to fill out the supporting cast, but were still without our leads. The soonest we could reschedule was Friday, April 22nd.  So we had auditions, we got some great actors and found 2 we wanted to cast. But I’ll get back to this.

Then our Dp quit. See the location is about an hour and a half away and we’re shooting an average of 18 pages a day. The DP got cold feet. He did recommend another and we began talking to him. I also reached out to another DP who’s good friends with my AD. Anyway, we went back and forth between these two all Friday and Saturday and finally settled on the AD’s pal. So we’re now a little over 4 days away from principle photograph and have to bring the DP and 2 lead actors up to speed in order to start shooting on Wednesday.

Then on the producers gets their stuff stolen. In the stuff is the only contact for one of the roles in the movie. So now on Sunday night, 3 day before principle photography begins I’m casting a role from scratch, prepping a new Dp, coming up with a new equipment list and taking over the propmaster duties because our PM failed to find one.

Independent moviemaking is indeed not for pussies.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pre-Production: Put a Ring on it. (7 Days to go)


Big day today.

  1. 4am -11am day gig.
  2. Contact actors about restatraunt shoot change. (I had a bunch of previous cast member coming to fill up our restaurant set, but it turns out we’re shooting in the moring and not night now. Done.
  3. Clean up email
  4. 1115 arrive home. Check email.
  5. Call sound mixer. Confirm dates.
  6. Send Scripty email.
  7. Check LA Casting Site start making selections
  8. Reach out to Tom and Blaine confirm location scout tomorrow.
  9. Read over Thea sides.
  10. Work on call sheets.
  11. Go to late auditions

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pre-Production: Put a Ring on it (8 Days to go)


Getting close.

Tomorrow we have a small audition set up for about half a dozen actors. We’re still looking for our leads. Then on Friday we have a larger scale audition set up. Our submissions this time are way better.

To other filmmakers if you’re doing audition and looking for a casting site to use. Nowcasting and LACASTING.com are great (free) tools. Also, Catz Casting studios is a great place to do auditions for small productions. *** brought you by catz, now and la casting.

I spent a little time organizing the call sheets. We’re waiting on one last piece of info on the restaurant to solidify them. Tomorrow. The will be set in stone.

Now gotta read the script again….

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pre-Production: Put a Ring on it (10 Days to go)


So, the producers have approved a few of the roles from auditions. I’m sending them the contact to book the actors today. The 2nd round of audition (concentrating on Thea and Jamar) are set for Wednesday 1-5 pm.

I traded emails with the DP we’re set to do a location walk through on Thursday. It’s getting a little late, but our schedules just couldn’t sync up before hand. 

I have to admit; my nerves are getting to me a bit. Everything is fine, but I do tend to suffer from anxiety and the movie along with a little personal drama as got me on edge. I slept very little last night.  I plan to spend the rest of the day working on the script. I may have to do a little legwork for the auditions Wednesday, but that’s all I got planned.

Going to try and relax a bit before things get real.

A Pre-Production Day in the Life of a Low Budget Moviemaker

  1. 7am. Up. Send emails to the producers and production managers regarding casting, union status and locations. Also, reviewed the prop list. The PM put it up on googe docs. Really good tool. I’ve never used before.
  2. Power read through the script.
  3. 850am Head to the gym
  4. 950am Breakfast. Oatmeal and coffee (pretty much my standard_need to get some fruit.)
  5. 10am exchange a few casting emails with the producers.
  6. 1045 am head down to the local starbucks to work on my shot list and storyboards. I want to be completely done with them by Wednesday.
  7. 205 Damn I’m good. Shot is is done. Still got a few storyboards to do. Came home to cook lunch for me and the AD whilst we work on our call sheets and schedule.
  8. 230 – 630 work on call sheets with the AD.
  9. 645 – 9 Scream4
  10. 9-1230 Barneys with friends.


A productive day. A fun day. I wish I could’ve stepped outside my head a little more to enjoy it. Funny how one lillle piece of information that shouldn’t matter to you at all can totally ruin your day. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pre-Production: Put A Ring on it (11 days to go)


Worked a bit on our Wednesday auditions for our lead roles. I think this round is going to go much better. I spent most of the day just reading the script. I find it helpful to re-read it the script has many times as you can before going into production. 

I'm still a bit baked after my super long Friday. I'm going to get a good night rest tonight and hit it hard tomorrow.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pre-Production: Put a Ring on it (12 days to go)


Friday  April 15

Big audition day today.

Let me tell the tale of how poor Jason and how he ran this unfortunate audition. 1st off, audition space is cheap. And it’s not a good idea to try and cast both supporting cast and leads on the same day.

Over the course of 4 hrs, we had to see over 60 actors. This left us with only a few minutes with each actor, which for minor roles might be ok, but it’s hardly enough time to suss out an actor’s ability to carry a movie.

On top of that, I didn’t double-check the submissions that my casting director had made. He came onto the project rather late and didn’t have a good feel for what we were looking for. In truth, I didn't prepare him. As a result, many of the actors that showed up were just plain wrong for the parts. And what do you say to some actor that drove clear across town and just isn’t right? Do you tell him to beat it? Maybe you should, but that’s not something I can do. So we read each and every one, giving them the same attention and respect we do to all.

We did find some good fits for some of the supporting roles. And have already booked the space for another round of purely lead auditions for this Wednesday.



Thursday, April 14, 2011

Your work is only read by the people who will destroy it.

Walter Hill on developing his screenwriting style:
"Alex Jacob's script of Point Blank (1967) was a revelation. He was a friend (wonderful guy, looked like a pirate, funny and crazy). This revelation came about despite a character flaw of mine. I have always had difficulty being complimentary to people whose work I admire, when face-to-face with them. This is not the norm in Hollywood where effusiveness is generally a given. Anyway, a mutual friend told Alex how much I admired Point Blank and John Boorman. Alex then very graciously gave me a copy of the script. This was about the time he was doing The Seven-Ups (1973).

"Anyway, by now I'd been making a living as a screenwriter for maybe two or three years and had gotten to the point where I was dissatisfied with the standard form scripts were written in -- they just all seemed to be a kind of subliterary blueprint for shooting a picture and generally had no personal voice. Mine were tighter and terser than the average, but I was still working with the industry template and not too happy about it. Alex's script just knocked me out (not easy to do); it was both playable and literary. Written in a whole different way than standard format (laconic, elliptical, suggestive rather than explicit, bold in the implied editorial style), I thought Alex's script was a perfect compliment to the material, hard, tough, and smart -- my absolute ideals then. So much of the writing that was generally praised inside the business seemed to me soft and vastly overrated -- vastly oversentimental. Then and now, I haven't changed my opinions about that. But I have changed them about the presentational style.

"Anyway I resolved to try to go in that direction (that Alex had shown), and I worked out my own approach in the next few years. I tried to write in an extremely spare, almost haiku style, both stage directions and dialogue. Some of it was a bit pretentious -- but at other times I thought it worked pretty well. I now realize a lot of this was being a young guy who wanted to throw rocks at windows.

"Hard Times was the first, and I think maybe the best. Alien (1979) -- the first draft, then when David [Giler] and I rewrote it, we left it in that style.The Driver, which I think was the purest script that I ever wrote, and The Warriors. The clean narrative drive of the material and the splash-panel approach to the characters perfectly fit the design I was trying to make work. Of course all this depend on the nature of the material; I don't think the style would've worked at all had I been writing romantic comedies."

"My scripts have always been a bit terse, both in stage directions and dialogue. I think I've loosened up in the dialogue department, but I still try to keep the descriptions fairly minimal, and in some cases purposefully minimalist. I still punctuate to effect, rather than to the proper rules of grammar. I occasionally use onomatopoeias now, a luxury I would certainly never have allowed myself when I was younger. My favorite description of the dilemma of screenwriting comes from David Giler, "Your work is only read by the people who will destroy it."

I want to read the script for Point Blank now (and it looks like I'm not alone). Read on. Via The Onion A.V. Club's primer on Walter Hill.

Pre-Productio: Put a Ring on it - Thursday (13 Days to go)

Thursday, April 14

13 days till production.

Yesterday, I got the main script breakdown complete (we know what scenes we’re shooting on what day and the order). My AD is taking all that info and putting it into call sheets. The call sheets will be distributed to the producers and crew on Monday.  Looks like I also found a sound guy. I need to confirm with him before the end of day.

Crew wise we’re looking good. We still need a hair/make-up artist. I’m going to reach out to our PM today at our meeting and see if she can head that search up. I’m trying to distance myself a little more from the production side of prep so that I can fully concentrate on the creative.

So, today I’m mainly concentrating on the script. I need to finish my script analysis and shot lists. After a workout and breakfast, I’ll head down to my local coffee shop to burry myself in it. At some point I’m supposed to meet with PM, I’m waiting to hear what her schedule looks like today.

We’re still locking locations. Until they are locked and we know exactly what we’re dealing with I can’t really prep my Production Designer. He’s pretty much standing by right now.

Tomorrow we’re having auditions. The producer has already attached “names” to three of the major roles, however we still need to find our two leads and Elmer (in the script he’s written as being 95). Elmer’s probably the role I’m most worried about. And riddle me this? Why is it when you post a project on an actor’s casting site that you get 300 submissions for the role of WAITER, but only 50 for the leads? Just curious.

Pre-Production: Put a Ring on it. (14 days to go)



Wednesday, April 13

14 days til production.

This whole project came together very fast. I had been talking on and off with the producer for over a month about the possibility of directing some material for him. However, the trigger wasn’t officially pulled until last week when I received and read the script. It’s a really smartly written indie. There are only 5 major speaking roles, one major location and few costume changes. The bulk of the movie takes place over the course of a single evening; so clothing continuity and wardrobe budget aren’t much of a concern. The producer has attached 3 name actors (more on that in another post.) 

Probably the most exciting aspect of the movie to me though, is it’s a real actor’s piece. This movie will live or die based on the performances and how I shape them. It’s an exciting challenge that I look forward to tackling. It’s a romantic comedy/drama, definitely a change of pace from the more thriller/horror-centric last few projects I’ve done. But, those who know me, know I loves me my chick flicks. So it’s not as “outta left field” as it may seem, me directing a rom-com. 

  1. Finish up schedule/call sheets and breakdown. I’m meeting with my AD around 3pm to do all that. We’ve already completed the 1st two days of the shoot. We need to knock out the main house location days. (80% of the movie takes place there)
  2. Reach out to and lock down a good sound mixer. The importance of sound on a low budget production cannot be underestimated.
  3. Work a little more on my shot list. I want to have a specific plan to present to the production manager when we meet on Thursday.


That’s it. Then the following day, I’m supposed to meet up with Production Manager. We need to lock down locations and the rest of the crew.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jason Horton / Hired Gun


So, I haven’t posted anything in over a week. It’s mostly because I’ve been busy prepping a new movie. What new movie, you may ask yourself? That is if give a flying...
Its called “Put a Ring on it,” a romantic comedy about a young lady whose plan to propose to her boyfriend goes awry when an old flame shows up.  Granted, that’s not a very good description. I’ve always been bad with loglines. Anywho, we start shooting in a little over a week (april 27th - may 2nd.) So there’s a ton of prep work to be done. We have more than a few names signed on (or start talent as my producer calls it). I'll make some announcements about that soon.
The cool thing is, I didn’t write this opus. I’ve been hired as a director/editor. It’s my 1st official time being hired to direct something that I did not write. Hopefully, I’ll be posting more on the prep, production and post as it goes on. Thing’s are getting very busy, very quick. We're still locking down locations and crew. We just signed a really cool, young DP. 

 (by the by, I’m looking for a sound mixer if anyone knows someone in the LA area with equipment; mixer, boom and at least 2 lavs.)

Gotta run, got a shot list to do.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What a Difference 2 Years Make?

Not very much as it turns out. Here's a list of 25 random things about me I wrote in Feburary 2009 complete with updated commentary.

1. I'm sad I got the time to do this.
(yup, still sad. Plus now I got time to blog about it. Fuck I hate in between movie downtime.)

2. I'm living in Burbank California, but miss just about everywhere else I ever lived. Especially New Olreans.
(still in Burbank, still miss New Orleans)

3. I wrote and directed one of the worse movies ever distributed "Rise of the Undead" It's avaible on Amazon and Netflix.

4. My 2nd movie was much better "Edges of Darkness" It'll be availalbe soon, but if you really have to see it early, it's been pirated online.
(Edges was released in the US by Anchor Bay and did pretty damn well for an indie. I just finished Monsters in the Woods and it is damn fine.)

5. 2 & 1/2 Men is on in the background as I type this. I'd feel bad for Charlie Sheen if he wasn't the highest paid sitcom actor working today.
(too soon)

6. I'm in my 30's and still occasionally break out.
(haven’t had a blemish all year. Pretty much)

7. I don't eat much sugar any more, but have been eating lots of chips.
(no longer believe in cutting anything out completely (unless doctor mandiated). Moderation right)

8. I've directed two horror flick and am prepping three more, but am looking forward to doing something a little different.
(shot a drama/noir called Trap. It’s good)

9. I'm not married, never have been and don't plan to be.
(no change there, although I maybe did fall in love for a minute or maybe I was just bored)

10. I fucking hate the Boondock Saints, but love the documentary about the director.
11. I miss having a dog.
(My roommate picked up a lap dog. She’s the bee’s knees.)

12. I shaved my beard last week and am missing it.
(sporting an almost full one now. I like to alternate between beard/no beard now)

13. The last book I read was Blood Meridian. I didn't put it down.
(just finished Hunger Games. It rocked)


14. i could care less about the super bowl or the oscars.
15. While I don't want a wife, I do envy my friends with families. (the children)
16. I can never get enough to eat. I just finished off a giant portabella steak. 2 small baked potatoes w/sour cream, a side cottage cheese and a whole grapefruit and am hungry again.
(eating more meals/smaller portions now)

17. My driver's side truck window was smashed over a year ago and I still haven't got it fixed. It doesn't rain much in LA.
(got rid of the truck last year. Now walking, biking and bussing. I'm so green.)

18. I think Jeff Fahey is cool.
19. I was the lead singer of a funk/rock band outta highschool. And it didn't totally suck.
20. I've not been cloths shopping in a few years.
(just thrift stores)


21. I don't smile alot cuz I'm self conscious about it. In grade school some girl, I don't even remember her name, told me I had an ugly smile.

(don't think that will ever go away)

22. I like my hair.
(it just gets better with age)

23. I was engaged. It didn't work out.
24. I couldn't make it through Dreamgirls.
25. My mother misses me very much.

Not much as changes. 2 new movies in 2 years. But still the same old me. Funny, I recently unearthed and old journal I used to keep right after highschool. We like to think as we get older that we change, that we become wiser and even sometimes develop into completely different people Me? I still have the same kind of thoughts, worries, interests. The only major change is I’ve become much more accepting of who I am. As a good friend recently said, “I’m very comfortable with who I am.”