Monday, May 30, 2011

Put A Ring On It Interviews: Ronny Law_Dp

Interview Ronny Law – Dp

This was my 1st experience working with Mr. Law. He came onto the project a mere four days before production. He turned out to be one of the best decisions we made. I’ve never worked with a DP or camera op I’ve trusted as much. In addition he’s a great personality to have on set. He gets it done, but keeps things light. I look forward to working more with him in the future.

1. So, this was your 1st feature film as a DP. What made you think you could pull it off?
Ronny_Hiring reliable people who actually knew what they were doing. Lol No, seriously. I had to pull myself together and tell myself it's like working on 10 short films in 5 days. EASY! Lol 

2. What was the most difficult aspect of production?
Ronny_Hiring the right people at the right time.

3. What do you think of my hair?
Ronny_Really?? LOL I think it has different personalities.

Sorry, we were looking for really cool or stunning. 

4. We shot with the Cannon 5d, how would you characterize the experience? Would you use it again?
Ronny_The characterization I would give the Cannon 5d is inconsistent and annoying. No, I would not shoot another feature with it if it were up to me.

5. We had a lot of lens, but no zoom. Why is that? 
Ronny_Budget cuts. 

6. We used a healthy mix of handheld, static tripod and dolly. How do you feel about mixing so many different styles into a single project?
Ronny_I feel it makes you stand out as a filmmaker. It's always a good thing not be a typical cookie cutter filmmaker.

7. You were my 5th favorite crew member. Rank the rest of us.
Ronny_I don't remember everyone else. Including you!! 5th favorite... Really??? LOL

wrong again. correct anwser would have been.1. Me
Doesn't matter after that.

8. If you go back in time and re-answer question 2, would you and what would you say?
Ronny_Yes, 5 days!!!! Wow. 

9.Me_I've grown tired of asking questions...make one up and answer it.
Ronny_Who was the most beautiful person we had on set?
Heather! Damn she was fine. LOL Oh yeah, she might have been #1 on my favorite crew member list. LOL 

Me_Wait, who the hell was Heather?

Thanks Ronny, your a man amongst men.

Deals and Dilemmas

So, I was just offered a deal to direct 3 more features. Yay right? Well, the movies are all to be shot back to back and to be done over the course of a mere 15 days of production. Yeah, I did just to one in 5, so why not 3 in 15?  I know it’s a gargantuan task, but it would be hella cool to have not one, not two, not three, not four, but five…possibly six features all directed by me, all being released in a one year period. That’s gotta be some kind of record.

I’ve talked a lot in recent posts about quality vs. speed and cost. I now completely understand the creative and technical limitation that such a schedule and budget place on a movie. The question now is can I live with those limitations and do the work. Right now, I think I can.

On one hand, I very much want to leave my day job, and this deal would be a big step in that direction. On the other hand, I kinda said I wouldn’t tackle any more projects at this level. Of course, I said that before completing post on Put a Ring on it. Now, having completed it and seeing how it turned out (much better than expected), I’m rethinking that. But, if I am going to do it, there are a few things that have to be different.

For one, I have to ask for a little more money. I took nothing for the prep on my last movies and put over 3 weeks of work with no compensation. Granted, I did offer to do the prep on that last one for free. This time, I have to ask for something. I also, need a little bit more of a day rate. I’m not talking a huge increase, but more. I’ll ask for the same amount for post, but I want an extra week to complete it this time and I will expect payment more promptly. I was a little rushed meeting the 19-day deadline. I also want to shoot with 2 cameras. We used only one on Put A Ring on it. In order to be able to get more essential coverage, I need to increase our shooting ratio. I believe that having 2 cameras will help accomplish this. Of course that also means an extra camera guy and more money. In addition, I’m also asking for a on set assistant editor, again more money, but we had to schedule an entire day of reshoots on Put a Ring on it because I had no assistant editor and failed to dump a card properly.  I’ve also asked for a little more prep time to go over and make changes to the scripts.

So, I’ve made my counter offer and am waiting to hear back. These are ultra-low budget flicks and maybe this will be too much for the budgets to handle. I will understand, but I can’t work for less, not anymore. Don’t get the wrong idea; it’s not about me making more money. It’s about increasing the quality of the work. The additional crew, the added camera’s. The pay for prep even. Without it, I have to work more day job hrs and that will cut into my ability to prepare for the movie. The most important thing to me now is to make my next project better than the last.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Another Sunday in the Life...

Another Day in the Life…

9am up and Adam.

****That’s a little late for me, but I had a late night. Started out at a friends in Glendale, had dinner and a few drink, left there around 11 and decided to do a little impromptu bar hopping in Downtown Glendale, which is actually a lot more fun than it sounds, plus a made a nice new friend. Anyway, it was past 3 when I finally got back home. I’ve been going non-stop for a little over a month on Put A Ring on it with little to no socialization, and it was a much-needed release. 

9:10 – 1030

Whooped up a little biscuits and gravy (white trash!) and watched the pilot of Game of Thrones, I’ve been holding onto it for over a month. Good show, think I will continue watching.

1145 – 1pm.

Rewatched the Put a Ring on DVD yet again on my roommates TV. I want to get the cut as flawless as possible before sending of the edit files on Tuesday. I really actually enjoyed watching it. It was hard to keep stopping and making notes, but I roughed it through.

1pm – 3pm
Made most of the changes from my notes. Before bed I need to watch through one more time in final cut, just to make sure there are no uprez anomalies. I don’t think there are though. The post house in Louisiana should have an easy enough time with it.

3pm – 6pm
The most exciting part of the day. I’m working on a new Monsters in the Woods sales trailer with James Bills. I’m going to digress just a second to talk about this man. There have been two times in my postproduction career where I worked with other editors that just left my jaw on the floor, editor’s that left me feeling awestruck, humbled and even a bit intimidated. The 1st was Chris Hutson who I worked under briefly on a feature called Butcher House, the dude wasn’t the best writer or visual stylist in the world, but he was really good with actors and I’ll be damned if he didn’t edit like a demon (that is if a demon edited, and was very good at it). He blew me away, was miles ahead of me as an editor. Then there’s James Bills, hands down the best overall low budget filmmaker I’ve ever met. This guy can literally do it all (and do it all well). He writes, directs, does graphic design, web design, editing, camera-work and visual effects…I think he even cooks. The scary thing is he does it all on a professional level. I myself can do a bit of all that, but only writing, directing and editing with any kind of real professional proficiency. But James tears it all up. I was lucky to meet and befriend him in New Orleans, before Katrina and we’ve been helping each other out ever since.
Anyway, I knew he was good, but to sit and watch him just kill this new Monsters in the Woods trailer is a real treat. It’s the best trailer for anything I’ve ever been involved in. If the movie lives up to a fraction of this trailer potential, we got a Monster hit. Ha, ha, see what I did there? I said Monster hit and the name of the movie is Monsters in the Woods. Aint I clever? That’s why I make the not so big bucks.  Or would if I got paid on time.

7pm – 9pm

I was about to say implement more Put a Ring on It changes, but forgot I got big plans. Going to the Hollywood cemetery for a picnic and screening of Young Frankenstein. Been looking forward to this all week.

Guess that’ll be a day then.

*** Ok
Complete discloser, It’s actually only a little past 11am. I just finished Game of Thrones, the rest is complete conjecture at this point. It is the plan, but who know how things will shape up. Guess we’ll see.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

One Bad Mutha. Shut Your Mouth!

I must say, I’m feeling quite bass-ass right about now. I shot a feature film in 5 days and edited it together in 19 (not to mention the fact that I received the script and started pre-production just under 3 weeks before camera’s rolled)….and it don’t suck.

It turned out really well. I got the opportunity to work with some great actors; Robin Givens, Miguel Nunez jr, Tiara Gathright (great new find and lovely green eyes), Trell Woodberry, Richard Lund, Frank Brantley, Vanessa Rodriguez and as always Alonzo Jones. The cast was all around great to work with. Then there’s the crew, the finest I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Lots of bright new stars there, and some seasoned pros. It was a great mix that made for some really cool moviemaking.

Then today, I just worked with my good friend and editor James Bills on a new Monsters in the Woods sales trailer. This one is gonna do it! It freakin rocks. The score is mere days from completion and the visual fx are finally shaping up. We should have some big news on that movie real soon.

So over the last 2 years I’ve made three movies and they all showcase some of my best work. Trap, Monsters in the Woods and Put A Ring on it. It also looks like they’re all going to be released pretty close together. 2011 is going to be a big year for me. (or so I hope.)

So what now????

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 19

Last night I exported a dvd. Today I went through that dvd and made notes. I listed everything that might have been wrong…little mistakes I’ve missed. A visible mic pack. A dirty floor. Shots that linger just a bit too long. Dialog that’s set too low. Ect..ect…

I’ve made it 60 percent of the way through the list. Tonight I’ll finish it off and then that’s a wrap. I’ve edited my movie in 19 days….
Well, that’s not exactly it. See we still have to procure some music. That’s the producer’s job. So I’m kinda waiting on that. Once the music is secured, I have to mix it in and then export. So that will be another couple of days work.

Damn, I guess the whole “how to edit a movie in 19 days” is kinda debunked now. Aw man, I was looking forward to bragging, "Yeah, man I shot a movie in 5 days and then edited the whole thing in 19...and it's not a complete piece of sh%$. Oh well, guess I'll have to live with pretty fast.

 So, yeah, I’m pretty much done and could just sit and wait for the material, but that’s not me. I’ll probably continue to tinker with the edit, sound mix and color correction right up to delivery. There are still things that could be better and now I'll have the extra time to make them so.

Put a Ring on it might not have ended up getting edited in 19 days. But at least I know now (as long as all the elements are secured and available) you can edit, do sound design, mix and export a feature, on your own, on a desktop mac, in 19 days, while still working a part time day job.

Til next time…

Keep cutting.
 (movies that is. Not yourself. Cuz you wouldn’t want to hurt yourself. No matter how much better it makes you feel.)


The producers have found a post house in Louisana to finish out the color and sound post. So, looks like I'm completely done. 19 days! I'm copying over the files to a harddrive and putting it in the mail today.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 18

Drama. This could possibly be the day the negates the whole series of How to Edit a Movie in 19 Days.

So we ended up losing all our music today (not as bad as it sounds. We’re only talking a couple of songs, but one fit really, really well.) The producers and musicians just couldn’t come to an agreement. Or they had creative differences, whatever. But as of now we're missing songs and a composer. They song writers were also working on a score.

On top of that we have a trailer due, and it was entrusted to an independent contractor, i.e...not me. But it was delivered, well, not quite complete and a few days late. So I have to try and throw something together for tomorrow. Trouble is, I don’t really have the proper music. The producers didn’t pass my original trailer because the music I had made it sound too “thillerish.” Probably because all the music I’ve accumulated over the years is from mostly horror projects. But, if they can get me some appropriate tracks I can put something together lickity split.

Oh yeah, I did some editing too. I finished my sound pass and got some notes on the rough cut from the producers. Seems, they’re overall happy, but had some specific notes and some worries about the pace. The 1st act is dragging a bit. I think it may be due to me lingering on shots a little too long, which I do tend to do sometimes. So I’m going to work on that tomorrow (unless I’m cutting a new trailer)/

Mr. Mcgill also came by and did about 4 hrs of color correction. He’s closing in on done.

Ok, gotta get some rest. Tomorrow is going to be a long day.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 17

2 more days... just 2 more days.

Yeah, so that's more of a facebook post than blog entry, but it's all I got in me after today.
Get back with ya tomorrow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 16

It feels like I've been working on this feature for months. But it's only been 1. Wow.

Funny how much my spirits are lifted as I close in the final cut. I finished the dialog cutting and mix early this morning. Everything is sounding just great. It’s now sounding like a real movie. I did some last minute video tweaking at the same time. Fixed a few awkward spots.

The only major thing left is color correction. I’m working on that with my AD/color grader John McGill. I just wanted to take second to thank this individual for all his hard work and dedication. He’s been right there with me from day 1 of pre-production through delivery. Next to me, he’s put in more hours on this than any other 2 people combined. This movie would have never been finished in the state it’s in without him.

Only 3 days left till deadline. It will be tight, but it’s looking good.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 15

So today I need to do a few things.
  1. I need to do up a cue sheet for the composer. List all the points I think the piece needs music.
  2. Continue sound design.

Which leads me to my next subject: Doing sound design in Final Cut Pro.

Some will scoff, but when you have to put out a feature fast, one the easiest and most efficient ways is right in FCP.
Here are the steps I take.
  1. Usually my dialog tracks start out mono. Keeps things easier to move around while editing. So, I’ll start by stereo pairing all the main audio tracks. If I’m in a hurry, which I am on this feature. I’ll also start to set the levels. Dialog should usually be between -15 and -8db’s. Of course a good rule of thumb is, if it sounds good, keep it. Find and place all ambient sound. Room tone. Car engines. Source music, ect.
  2. Do any needed dialog editing. Cross-fades, place dialog sourced room tone over any dead spots.
  3. Place hard fx. Phone rings. Fight folly. Anything other than general folly. I typically keep my fx mono. this way I can place them easier in space. This may be a faux pas, but hey, that's me.
  4. Mix levels on all the above. Make sure nothing overpowers. Again, I usually use my 50% audio rule. Besides watching the levels. I also listen with the volume on the speakers and computer set to exactly 50%. I’ve used this method for years. I figure if everything is fairly clear at 50%, but not overpowering, it’s a good place to be.
  5. If I have time, I’ll export a DVD and watch on 2 different TV sets. Listening for any inconstancies. It should play ok on different set ups.

That’s it. If I have more time and money, I’d either hire out a sound designer and mixer. As long as I’m doing it myself, I’ll use what I know.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Once Upon a Time... Note to a Producer

I've been going back through some of my email correspondence with producers over the years. There's some fun stuff in there. I think I'm going to start posting some of these...judiciously edited to protect the innocent of course.
Funny how many are applicable to more than one production.

I know you're anxious to see the cut. It's on its way. I'm really proud of what we accomplished with so little time and money. I really hope that you're happy with it. I know that I've done my best with what I had and am happy with the results, but I still wish it were better. I guess regardless of budget filmmakers always feel like that. 

So while the editing is close to complete on the edit I sent, there are some pieces of good and bad news.

The Good News.
1. It is not fully color corrected. There will be shots too dark. Too muted. A few shots within scenes that don't completely match. This will all be remedied. But please let me know what you do and don't like in order to help guide us through the final color correction.
2. Sound design is not done. I did "lay in" some sound fx but not all are final and some are just plain missing. This is what I'm working on this weekend.
3. There is pretty much 0 score. I laid in a few pieces of random music. None of it is intended for final. I'm just trying out stuff.
4. Another sound note. Dialog is not mixed. Levels may go up or down. Room tone has not been laid out. So sound will cut off from time to time.

The Bad News. (well, maybe these things aren't necessarily bad, but they are fact)
1. Everything we shot is there, pretty much. Anything left out (for the most part) is stuff we just don't have. While I can mess with the timing and order of shots, I've pretty much exhausted all existing coverage. IF there's a shot that seems to linger a bit long on someone and you think that there should be a close up of whoever, chances are we don't have a usable shot on that person at the particular moment. Shooting in * days, we HAD to be economical and weren't able to cover every scene to my 100% satisfaction. Spielberg himself couldn't have done it in this time frame.  There are scene where it came down to getting them with not enough coverage or not getting them at all.  I did plan for more coverage. The plan was good. But production issues beyond our control left us with hard decisions to make. On the last day there weren't even choices. It was just shoot it or don't...

2. Speaking of.. There is only one complete scene actually missing from the script. It is the one where * goes to *'s. This came up on set. Truth is we didn't have the physical resources (location and time) to shoot it. Whether you agree or not, I did present a workable alternative.  I know that it  would have worked. An argument can be made that it worked better as written, that's subjective. But the fact is we COULD NOT shoot it as written. It wasn't a physical option. And, in the heat of the moment I couldn't make myself heard. So, I was left with no alternative but to cut around it, which I have done. Hopefully the scene won't even be missed and we won't have to bring it up again. 

3.  That's all I can think of.

One more piece of positive.

I know it seems like a lot of unfinished stuff, but I can take it from where it is on the cut you will see, to professionally deliverable in a matter of days. Just yesterday (while exporting the rough cut) I fixed a lot of the sound fx and dialog. By Monday the dialog and sfx will be awesome. The only thing not 100% in my control is music. I've told * he only had * days to get me the music, but has you well know,  at this budget,  it's hard to hold people to a schedule. 
I'll keep on him. I'll also get that composer release asap.



Friday, May 20, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 14

In the final stretch. Today is the moment of truth. I actually drop a dvd of the cut in the mail for the producers. I have to admit I’m a bit nervous. I’m confident in what I’ve accomplished, but I have to say I do care quite a bit about what they think.

The current cut is minus music, missing some sound fx and has almost no color correction. I usually don’t let anyone look at a project at this stage, but things are a bit different when you’re working for someone.
I spent most of the day tightening the cut, working on sound. Adding hard sound fx, playing around with a little music. 

Anyway, the cut is close to locked. After my side trip to the post office. I will continue on with sound post. Thanks to Ben Adams, the dialog is no problem. My 2nd feature in a row using Ben and my 2nd and only feature to not need adr.

Looks like good ole doc crow is going to be working on our score.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I Made a Really Cute Movie

I know that’s kind of a weird statement coming from the director of Rise of the Undead, Edges of Darkness, Monsters in the Woods and Trap, but there’s really no other way to describe it. Put a Ring on it is just really fu@#ing cute. Watching the last minutes of the rough cut this morning, I realized that I had been smiling throughout most of the running time.

There’s so much to be proud of here. I know I sometimes come off a bit negative in my editing posts, but that’s only because that’s my technician/critical side shining through. As an editor I agonize over every single detail. Sometimes all I see are the flaws. But then I have a genuine audience moment, like I did this morning and I remember all over again why it is I do this.

I've always been a bit apocalyptic in my writing/directing choices. Anyone accusing me of peppering themes of nihilism and/or dispair throughout my previous works would not be off base. But I have a warm fuzzy side too, and think this movie perfectly reflects that. (i do like me my rom coms..right kimmi?)
I look forward to this getting out to the world. There are far too few positive and positively cute movies out there aimed for this market. I really think it’s going to get a good response and do quite well.

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 13

Yesterday I finished out, what will pretty much be the final cut. Sure, as I lay in sound fix and music there will be minor changes, but the movie I watched last night will be basically what I get.

Today, I will continue with sound fix. I’m trying to get least the initial layer (ambience and basic hard sfx) done today. IF time permits I may try to lay in a few music cues as well. I’m going to leave the color alone for now. This weekend one of my good friends is dropping by to try his hand at the color grading. I don’t want to create extra work for us, so I’ll leave it be for now.

After delivering the rough cut, I’ll move right into specific sound design. Normally I’d wait for producer notes, however aside from color correction, sound and music, there really isn’t much major that can change in the cut. The run time is 87 mins, leaving us 3 to 5 mins leeway in trimming (which isn’t much spread out over an entire feature).  The coverage that is used is basically all the coverage that we got. I used every little bit we had (with few exceptions). That’s one of the major sacrifices you make when you shoot a movie in 5 days (coverage). I remember reading a thread in an imdb message board where an Asylum director was defending his work and talking about how on their schedule and budget they sometimes didn’t have time to get close ups or inserts. I remember thinking “bullshit. You just suck..”  But here I sit today, having directed 6 features and I know exactly what he meant now. It’s true. Whether your Ed Wood or Stephen Spielberg, whether you have 10k or 100 million, you never have the time and money to get everything you want. Sometimes (on very low budgets) you can just get the bare minimum, inserts and close ups fall by the wayside. And there are scenes in this movie that I have to play out in a single wide. Because I didn’t have time to further cover them. Is this optimal? No. But it came down to either shooting these scenes in just a single wide with no coverage or not shooting them at all. This is something producers never seem to understand. They always ask where’s the close ups or inserts in such and such scene? We didn’t have time to get them. You have to make the time. How? Magic? We shot the movie in less than a week with less crew and money than we needed; we’re lucky to have what we have. I’ve seen this very conversation play out in the past with several producers and filmmakers and I’ve even had it once or twice.

Of course I’m sure no conversation of the sort will take place on this one.

SO yeah, you never have the time and money blah, blah, blah. What really matters is what you do with what you have. Sometimes, just being able to do anything with it resembling a real budget movie is a feat in and of itself. And sometimes, you can even end up creating something sublime, something that transcends the budget and time limitations. There are moments of both in this movie.

As an editor, I’m always a little down on every feature I edit right before sound design and color correction. Maybe it’s a flaw in my personality.  It’s probably just for the same reason most producers are hard on rough footage. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees on your own project and it’s equally difficult to see what it will be once the proper folly and color are done.

Well, let’s get to that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 12

I finished cutting in coverage to the last major scene last night. Up to this point, some scenes were just laid out in single shots. Now that all the pieces are in place, I’ll start to go over the whole thing and make it sing.

I’ll start this morning by watching it all the way through. Then I’ll go back in and start trimming and adding sound fx. I want to have a closer to fine cut to show the producers in 48 hrs.

Better get to it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 11 (or when reshoots go bad!)

They didn’t really go bad. It just seemed like a catchy title for a blog. 

No, in actuality they went pretty damn good. We got 90% of our intended shots, only they came out a bit better than I had even hoped. I was a bit worried going in. It’s been over a week since we shot. I had no idea what state the house would be in. I knew the family was just moving and the walls could’ve been painted, furniture moved, ect…But, surprise, surprise, it was pretty much the same. We were minus several props and production design decorations.  Our Production Designer is in Malibu and several of his things are with the head PA who lives somewhere else (somewhere far, it slips my mind now. I’m getting old ya see and can’t remember shit).

Anyway, the plan was to shoot the big scene in close ups, using a shallow depth of field so that the background would be indistinguishable from the normal one. Well it worked, pretty much. Of course there will be die hard continuity hounds that catch this and that, but for the most part everything worked really well. Most folk will not be able to tell what was shot in and out of reshoots.

I don’t know if any of the actors ever read this, but I do want to take a second to really thank them for coming back out and bringing their A+ game with them. They performed really well under some very difficult conditions.

So, oh yeah, editing. Right. So today I cut in the new material and editing in some coverage from the initial shoot that I haven’t add yet. The movie is really starting to shape up. I’ll continue to fine tune until the wee hrs of the night. Then tomorrow I’ll go over the entire piece. Thursday I’ll add some sfx and music, do a little more tightening and prep for a dvd export on Friday. I’ve got to get a rough cut in the mail Friday morning.

Anywho, that’s my day. How’s yours?

Monday, May 16, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 10

So I really caught my 2nd wind this weekend. Maybe it’s the thrill from shooting pu’s or the just the influx of new footage. But I feel rejuvenated and ready to go this morning. So let’s get to it.

The new footage is organized and converted.

  1. Sync new footage. This might take me most of the day. We shot A LOT of footage. We shot almost 15% more than our daily average during the shoot.
  2. Cut scene 50 and 51.
  3. Cut in new shots and coverage.

This is my plan for today. I may or may not get all the way done. It is a shit-ton of footage. But I have the rest of the week off from my day job, so for the next 4 days I’m going to immerse myself 100%.
I’ll have a fineish cut by Friday. I’ll mail a dvd of that to the producers to check out. I don’t want to send them anything in its current form. Not without some sound design and basic color correction. No matter how much any producer says they know how to view a rough cut, their initial suggestions are almost always 90% about fine cut stuff. The color doesn’t look good here,  I can't hear the actor say this or that, or it needs sound or music there…no shit, it’s a rough cut. At least that’s been my experience in the past, maybe these producer are different. But hey, it’ll only take me 48 hrs to get most of the stuff in place, so why take the risk?

Alright, on to it…

Sunday, May 15, 2011

How to Make a Movie in 5 Days: Put a Ring on It-Day 5.5

Yeah, so it became how to shoot a movie in 5.5 days. Or how to shoot a movie in 5 days if the director/editor doesn’t forget to dump footage from an important sd card properly. But those just don’t sing the same.

Arrive 4pm.

  1. Shoot 3 establishing shots of house.
So this happened, only we arrived closer to 5pm. Got lost on the 60.

Tiara arrives at 5pm.
Int. house pu’s with Tiara

  1. Tv insert.

I ended up picking this up later in the day. But I did get 3 or 4 of them.

  1. Candles insert.

I chose to skip this. We were running out of time and had to prioritze.

  1. scene 37. Thea against bathroom door. CU compose herself. Then get freaked again. “Rose buds!”

Got this. Just has planned.

  1. Scene 41 – Thea on ahands and knees looking for ring. Phone rings. Sits on couch Awnsers text.

Ayup, smooth as butter.

  1. Scene 41 Text from Paulies. “Hi Thea. Paulie from Paulie’s Telegrams. Our man is running a bit late but he’ll be there.

Got this, but not quite has planned. Couldn’t get the tripod at the proper angle. Had to be creative.
  1. 41 Cu thea “oh great!” Door bell rings. Uh oh.”I knew that telegram was a bad idea.” Thea gets up to awnser door.
  2. Scene 47 “ Where is that ring” somewhere inside. Bathroom?

Skipped this. Don’t even know why I wanted it right now.

  1. Text Insert

These did not come out. I’m hoping to be able to something in post.
  1. Scene 38. Handheld cu of thea hearing jamar coming. She’s looking towards the door. Cu up door handle turning.

Oops. Got the thea cu. Didn’t get the door knob.

  1. Scene 42 Thea opens cake box. Cu on Thea’s reaction. Sad.

Got this. But don’t know that I need it now.

  1. Scene 47 Thea throws balloons and streamers in trash.

This is one, I had to lose for time. But wish I’d got this instead of the previous shot.

  1. Scene 31 cu Thea “What too much?” and  “Jamar?” shades behind her are open.
Got the too much, forgot the Jamar line.

DUSK! 2 things
  1. Restaurant shot. And thea in car crying. Jamar are you ok. I’m fine. Let’s just go.
  2. Thea in kitchen doing scene 12

Skipped one. But did get 2. In retrospect 1 just didn’t make any sense.

Jamar, Thea and BJ

  1. Scene 50

Oh man, did we ever get this. Worked out very well. I’m really happy with this footage.
Can’t wait to cut it together.

  1. Scene 51

This came out well. Looks really good. But we didn’t have the same kind of lens, and it wasn’t quite as phenomenal as the 1st time.

  1. Scene 62 with cupid. Please take me home. Text coverage 62. Hey Elianna. I’m  on my way. Thanks for letting me stay with you tonight.”

Not to pat myself on the back, but his was a little bit of genious. It worked great.

  1. Cupid on corner waving as she drives off.

Skipped this, didn’t have the proper available light.
  1. BJ various shots. Kitchen raiding fridge. Bathroom kicking back. Lurking at door shot.

This was an extra, we did get it, but I’m not sure how well it’s going to cut in.

  1. Jamar by himself packing after he finds out thea’s not coming home.

Same as the bj stuff, got it, not sure it will work. Guess I’ll see tomorrow.

  1. Jamar single coverage in 58. If couch permits.

Got this.

  1. Scene 58 text coverage. From Luke “Hey buddy, Elianna just told me Thea’s staying tonight on our couch. Just wanted you to know she was safe.”

Got it, but need to insert text digitally.

  1. Scene 31. Jamar and Thea 2 shot. Coverage with Pastor Fields.

Did not get this. It needed to be too wide a shot. We didn’t have the proper Production Design behind them.

  1. Scene 34/35 transition. Thea composes herself on stairs. Jamar OS “Where’s my briefcase?” Thea – “It’s in the upstairs closet. “ … “Closet!” she runs up the stairs.

Got it. It works well.

  1. Series. Thea runs up and down stairs.

Had to stay a little too tight. It will most likely work thoush.

Car Stuff night
  1. ext. car drive in neighborhood. 3 shots. Ext car drive busy street 3 shots.
  2. Jamar get in and out of car at drug store. Scene 26.
  3. Jamar coverage in scene 30 until he gets out of car.
  4. Scene 30 jamar look under car for earing.
  5. Restaurant extreme cu jamar pulls out wallet. Seated.

Got all of this except the wallet pull out.

All in all it was a very successful reshoot. I believe I now possess all the necessary bits to tell the story and to make it sing just a bit more on key.

Friday, May 13, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 9.5

Day 9.5

Ok. So I k now I said I was taking the day off to prep for re-shoots, but what can I say I’m an overachiever. I did the re-shoot schedule/shot list late last night. I woke up early this morning and finished off my 2nd trailer. Now I’ll spend a few hrs, going back over the 1st 30 minutes of the cut, especially the restaurant stuff. Then I’ll head out around 5pm to buy materials for the Cupid costume. Ayup, add costume designer to the list of my many talents.

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 9

Day 9

Damn, almost half way there. The rough cut is complete.

I tightened up the 1st 20 minutes this afternoon. I will make 30 minutes before the end of the day. Then I’ll work on the updated trailer a bit. My priority though is the movie itself.

I’m taking Friday off from editing to go over everything for the reshoots. Then Saturday we reshoot. I’ll take Sunday off for the most part. Probably will rename and back up all the Saturday files. Maybe even sync. But I’ll hold on the edit til Monday.

Monday will be day 10. I’ll tighten the 2nd 30 minutes and cut in the reshoots on Monday (Day 10) and the last 30 on Tuesday (Day 11). I’ll send Day’s 12 and 13 locking the fine cut.
14-16 working sound. My assistant will begin color correction at the same time.

I’ll finish color correction and sound on Days 17 and 18. Do one last pass on Day 19 and export.

Sounds like a plan. Let’s see what happens.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 8

Yesterday was a really lax post. I’m just really tired. The breakneck pace from pre-production to delivery on this movie is getting to me. I knew it was going to be a challenge and I welcomed it with open arms, but I’m longing now to be done.

On to the day at hand.

Started today taking care of a little Monsters in the Woods business. I’m trying desperately to get it finished up. The producers are putting pressure on me to get the visual fx finished. Unfortunately visual fx isn’t really my cup of tea and the few contacts I have that are capable are just too busy.

I’m going to finish the rough cut of Put a Ring on it today if it kills me. I need to have one full day to review it and the footage in order to plan properly for the pick-ups. I’ve already started a shot list, but I need to make double sure it’s complete.

My goal with the reshoots (in addition to catching the missing scenes) is to augment the coverage on others. Due to time constraints on the main shoot we had to short change coverage in several scenes, I’m hoping to rectify that situation on Saturday. I need to get the final cut done by Monday, so I can move on to sound and color correction.

Damn…it’s a lot of work. Should’ve asked for more money.

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 7

Today I passed the 60-minute mark in the rough cut. Assembling a rough-cut is both exciting and humbling. Exciting seeing certain scenes come together with little to no effort and humbling (as a director) to find others that (as an editor) you'll have to bump up a level.  

Tomorrow, I’ll finish the rough layout and then go through it with a fine toothcomb looking for any additional pickups that might be needed on Saturday.
I worked a bit on new more comedy-centric trailer. My 1st pass turned out a little more dramatic than I had anticipated. My dp (who also edits) is working on a more comedic trailer as well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Rant

Ok. So we’re doing re-shoots on a feature on it this Saturday.  We have to reshoot one full scene and a handful of other inserts. It’s a fairly small production.. Anyway, we only need a sound mixer from 7pm to 11pm. I reached out to a few mixers whose résumé’s I had from Monsters in the Woods and offered a 150-dollar rate for a mixer/boom (no full rig. Just boom, mix, record. Now I know that this is super low for a day rate, but it’s only 4 hours. I thought it was fairly reasonable.

A few minutes ago I get this two page email berating me and other (schlocky low budget filmmakers trying to take advantage of hard working skilled workers). It was mean-spirited to say the least.


My first reaction was to get mad. But I took a second, reflected…Am I taking advantage here? It really is all the money I have. It begs the question, if you can’t pay a good rate, should you just not shoot? And what is a good rate? What is a fair rate? Who am I or this guy to judge?  I’ve worked on plenty of production where people don’t get shit. At least I’m trying. I’m not out here lining my pockets on other people work. My full day rate was comparable to what I offered this guy for 4hrs. Not that it matters.

I don’t know anymore. I’ve made a lot of super low budget flicks. I’ve worked as a paid worker, an unpaid worker, and an unpaid producer. I’ve been on all sides. But I’m no longer sure that making these things is even right. I’ve been taken advantage of on just about every single production I’ve ever worked on, at least from a financial standpoint.  And here I sit on the other side taking advantage of others, or so I was told today. If he only knew how little I actually make.

I’ve heard people say before that if you don’t have the funding to make the movie properly (ie paying proper day rates down the line) then you shouldn’t push forward with the picture. I used to think this was utter bullshit, that there were advantages on both sides to doing low or no paid work. Now, I’m not so sure. All these years of being beat up making these movies is taking its toll. For the 1st time in my life I feel tired. Not just physically, but of the struggle, the mental and financial abuse.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 6

1. 7am. Wake up and finish encode and burning DVD for Monsters in the Woods with Time code. (I got a little hung up yesterday with the time code burn on Monsters, but it completed last night whilst I slept. I’m burning the discs now.
2. 8am Start final color correction and mix on Trailer for Should’ve Put A Ring on It.
3. 10am. Encode and upload compressed version for Producers to check out. Then lunch.
4. Start official edit. Want to finish an initial layout today by 5pm. Want to use this to review for the reshoots on Saturday.
5. 5pm-9pm Fine-tune 1s 10 minutes of the cut. Minus credits.

Have to admit, I know I'll finish, but I'm a bit stressed on the edit time frame. Sound Design, Color correction and HD uprez await.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 5

With the syncing and organization complete, its time to cut a trailer.  I finished my 1st draft this afternoon. I’m going to step away from it for the evening and finish color correction and mixing in the morning. I have to make some time to render time code onto Monsters in the Woods for our new composer. It’s an all night thing. Then tomorrow, it’s onto the actual edit.

The trailer is a little over 2 mins now. I plan to shorten it by 15 to 20 seconds. It looks pretty good. The thing I’m kinda missing is comedy music. I just don’t have any. I’ve amassed an impressive sound library over the years, but have primarily worked on horror features, so all most all of my music cues are horror-centric. I’m also not much of a composer, so no help there. The exec producer is supposed to forward me a few cues today. We’ll see how those work out. In the meantime I’ve placed a pretty nice blues number from Doc Crow. We’ll see how the producers like it.

In other news, looks like the re-shoot are going to happen Saturday. The entire cast/crew is in place. I’m actually looking forward to it. It will give me the opportunity to not only get a better version of scenes 50 and 51 (the missing scenes) but I’ll also have a chance to improve a few other scenes. Add a insert or close up reaction here and there.

I plan to spend Wednesday going over what I have in order to plan the best use of my time on Saturday.

How to make a Movie in 5 Days: Put a Ring on It-Day 4

This was probably our most worry free day. We had just come off our huge 25 page plus Friday and were feeling pretty much unstoppable. This day was considerably easier, only 17 pages. It was also my 1st time directing Miguel Nunez. I’d seen him in many movies. He’s usually cast as comedic relief. In this movie he was past as Pastor Fields, a heavy and dramatic part. Miguel handled it with aplomb. He really impressed me with his ability to convey so much emotion just through his eyes. Like Robin, he nailed everything within two takes. He was confident, but not arrogant, a true professional.

Shot list - Day 4

Scene 33

  1. Handycam – Jamar meets Elmer. Cover 2 x’s/

Well we only covered it once. The Dp was unhappy with the artificial look of the lighting. But upon reviewing it in post, I have to disagree. Its one of our better-lit scenes.

Scene  32

1, Master Shot of elmer and pastor

Scene 43

  1. Pastor and Elmer cont. one master shot
  2. Cu thea.

Scene 45

  1. single pastor
  2. single elmer
  3. master more serious

Scene 31 (middle of scene. Pastor Fields coverage)

  1. alter shot – pastor field in bg thea and jamar in fg
  2. cu pastor fields

Scene 46
  1. Pastor fields single through his exit
  2. Master thea and Jamar all the way to page 53 when Jamar exits
  3. Insert Jamar enters walks in stiops. Heads to door. Door gag.
  4. Insert of thea’s reaction
  5. Insert of Eliana’s reaction
  6. Insert shot of door. Jamar step on mat and off repeat 3 x’s.

Scene 46.2 (after Jamar’s exit)
  1. 2 shot thea and Elianna
  2. Insert cu thea check watch

Scene 59 (Pastor Field’s coverage. By his lonesome) on phone with Thea.
  1. med/wide scene
  2. cu on monologe.
Catch thea in car later.

Scene 61 (cont 59…different coverage same order)

Scene 2-9 2nd unit. No cast.

We didn’t make it into the 2nd unit shots. I decided to put them off til the next day. The DP and I would get up early to knock them out.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 4


So I’m finishing up syncing yesterday and I get a call from Alonzo, who played Bj, he asks me how the fight in scene 50 came out. Scene 50 is a ginormous, 8 page crucial scene between the 3 leads. I quickly tell him fine, exchange some pleasantries and hang up. Then it hits me; I have no clue how it came out. But wait, I’ve sync’d all the footage how can this be? Then it hits me; I have no recollection of ever viewing said footage. I quickly scan through the FCP file. Nothing. The scene isn’t there. Ugh oh. I search through my main hardrive. Nothing. Just the establishing shots at the head of the scene. Turns out the entire scene is just no there.

See we were shooting this feature on a Cannon 5d and had only 2 sd cards and one reader. Meaning every time a card got filled, someone (meaning me) had to stop everything, run up stairs and dump the cards.

We shot the scene in question on our busiest day and my best guess is that I either mixed up the card I was supposed to dump with the fresh one, or there an error occurred while dumping. In the mad dash to finish shooting a feature film in 5 days. I didn’t have time to double check the footage.

So here I sit, with a major sequence missing from the movie. I’m now rushing around, on my own dime, trying to put together re-shoots, the crew is all onboard as is all the cast, save one. One of the actors snagged a new gig that starts shooting the very day we are supposed to re-shoot. Ahh!!!!!!!!

I’m waiting to hear back from him now to see if we can workaround.

To be continued….

Friday, May 6, 2011

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 3

You know what, this blog is a good way to hold myself to the 19 day criteria and keep track of where I'm at. 

Syncing still going down. I’ve got about 5 hrs of work left. I got a little distracted yesterday afternoon (thanks Kimmi and Bianca), but will catch up this morning. Around 2pm I’m heading out to Venice beach to meet up with a friend of mine that shoots and edits a cooking show. I’m going to see about getting some cooking and kitchen b-roll to fill out our restaurant scene.

Upon returning tonight I’ll start laying out clips for a trailer. I plan to cut the trailer Saturday.

That’s it for today.

How to make a Movie in 5 Days: Put a Ring on It-Day 3

It’s a day that will live in infamy. Our biggest day. We successfully shot 25 pages of material in one 12 hr span. There were no major hiccups. We started and stopped on time. It was overall the most successful day of shooting I’ve ever had.

Alonzo Jones stepped in last minute as BJ. The other actor had to drop out last minute.
Shot List Day 3

Scene 27

  1. Bj close up in 27 (elmer standin or cane)

Scene 45

  1. single BJ (sticks head in door at end of the scene)

Scene 49

  1. BJ and Thea coverage (no Elmer)

Scene 11.1 (up to Bj’s Entrance)

  1. Dolly into Master.
  2. Insert T shirts (if we have them. If not something else)
  3. Insert Thea hide ring in plastic box
  4. Insert thea’s reactions at end of section (
  5. (catch oner of Elmer on Next day)

Scene 11.2 (Bj. Arrives through walk to Elmer’s room)
  1. ots thea
  2. ots bj (punch on on thea at end of last take to get pursed lips)
  3. Hand held Thea pov of empty driveway past BJ.
  4. Two shot Bj and Thea audition conversation.

Scene 11.4

  1. Two shot Bj and Thea at Elmer’s doorway

Scene 31.1

  1. Static wide thea enters
  2. Handheld c/u thea panic
  3.  Handheld Thea rips down photos.

Scene 31.2

  1. Wdie scene through Thea’s line “What do you mean?”
  2. Insert Thea static by Cabinet.
  3. Insert C/u Thea “Deer in headlights/react to phone.”
  4. Insert Jamar Push answering machine button. Extreme close up and slow.

  1. Thea and Jamar cross to door profile
  2. Alter shot as door opens.
  3. C/u Pastor Fields

Scene 31.4

  1. 3 shot. Thea in Middle
  2. Single profile Jamar
  3. Single profile BJ
  4. Head on Thea

Scene 34

  1. awkward 3 shot Bj, Jamar, Thea
  2. OTS BJ
  3. OTS THEa (ots if time permits)

Scene 44
  1. Single Thea (compose herself)
  2. Master 3 shot scene.

Scene 50 (BIG SCENE!) 51.1 (through Jamar’s enterance)
1. single thea
2. single Bj
3. Alter shot (jamar’s pov at end of section through Cupid’s song)

Scene 50.2 (Jamar reaction and Cupid’s song)
  1. Single cupid
  2. Single Jamar

Scene 50.3 (fight through tthea sits down “Sit down. Please. I’ll explain everything.”

  1. Handheld Master (2 various)
  2. Insert cu thea “rock n hard palce”

Scene 50.4 (maybe come back to Thea and Jamar coverage later)

  1. Single Thea
  2. Single Jamar
  3. Single BJ slips out

Scene 51 (Thea storms out of house) Exterior

  1. Dolly on Thea? Static Master?
  2. 3 shot Bj, Thea, Cupid
Scene 52 (int. car. Thea, Bj, Cupid

  1. Single Bj
  2. Single Thea
  3. Single cupid
  4. Exterior car. Drop cupid off.

Scene 54

  1. Two shot. Car stopped.

Scene 62

  1. Thea walks up to Bj’s door. Bj meets her.
  2. 2 shot bj and thea
  3. Single bj
  4. Single thea

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How to make a Movie in 5 Days: Put a Ring on It-Day 2

Day 2 was our 1st day on location in Riverside. We were using a single house location to double for the 3 interior and exterior locations needed. The house belongs to one of the producer’s families, so there were no time constraints and the crew could stay on location for the duration of the shoot.

Call time was 3pm. I think we started on time or pretty close to it.

This was also the day Robin Givens was on set. A word on Robin Givens (lovely!). She was gracious, hard working and very open to direction. It was a total pleasure working with her. (She also had nice things to say about yours truly!)

Shot List Day 2
Scene 29
  1. Handy cam – Thea and Jamar enjoy picnic (single shot)
Scene 55
  1. Handy cam (various set ups) available light. Outside Balcony
  2. Craig conversation on couch inside Sherries. Handy cam.

29 and 55 were meant to be shot in the backyard of our location. However, the producers are very particular about messy sets and the backyard was overgrown with grass and weeds. So, we found a neighbor across the street that was willing to let us shoot in their backyard. So we did.

Scene 17
  1. Eliiana, Thea and Sherri talk. Handycam use mirror. One shot.

I had intended this to be a really cool shot. Eliana was supposed to be holding a handycam and shooting Thea. I wanted to catch Elliana’s reflection in a mirror, so that we could see both actresses in the shot. Unfortunately we mounted the mirror too high and in the time we had to shoot the scene, we had no time to reposition the mirror and reset. Oh well, it went from being really cool, to just cool. I can live with that.\

Scene 40
  1. Thea and Eliana in kitchen (handycam one shot. Sherri and pals in Bg)
Scene 1, 73, 74
  1. Scene 1Thea into handycam/
  2. Sceme 73 pans to Sherri and Eliana Handycam
  3. Scene 75 Outside, doors. Handycam

Scene 12, 13 (Sherri’s Coverage)

  1. Med master
  2. Profile cu
  3. Dead on cu
  4. Insert typing. Hand on grip ball. Foot tapping.

Scene 57

  1. Master up to thea and eliana sitting down.
  2. Closer 3 shot
  3. Single Sherri
  4. Single  Thea
  5. Single Eliana

WRAP MS. Givens

Unfortunately I forgot to eat. And after 12 plus hours on my feet I got violently ill and couldn’t really enjoy my last scene directing Robin. Oh well, she said she’d be happy to work with me again, so hopefully I’ll get another chance.

Scene 66 Bathroom
  1. master Eliana gets call from Thea. “Luke just left”
  2. Thea’s coverage in Car.

This scene was a point of contention and the source of my 1st and only major argument with the producers. It was written to take place in Elliana’s house. I felt we were already stretching our single location beyond its means and we had no time to set up another set. I suggested we changed it from Thea going to Elliana’s to Thea staying in her car and calling Elliana. It didn’t fly. We ended up not getting the scene or the dialog within at all.

Scenes 56. 25,26,28,30
  1. car interiors various

We may wrap here. Depending on how late it is. If we still have time we’ll move on to Thea alone interior car. See call sheet.

We shot a few of the car scenes, but not all. It was already closing on 3am and we were at our 12 hour crew limit.
All in all a 1st day at our main location. The crew was really starting to click.

How to Edit a Feature in 19 Days: Put a Ring on it – Day 2

Syncing continues.

We shot on the cannon 5d. It’s a great, cheap camera for super-indie productions. If you can get a hold of a good lens package (which we did) you can get a picture quality that blows away the prosumer hd cams prime lens. The draw back is the cannon was not really made to shoot an HD feature. Sound must be recorded separately and sync’d.

Now most FCP editors these days, if they have to sync a mass number of clips, use Plural Eyes or some such program which aids in the process. Me? I’m old school and stubborn. I know it would probably save me mucho time, but I insist on pushing forward the old fashion way. I manually sync all the clips. For me, this is the best way to get initially familiar with ALL the footage while still performing a function. If I were to just review, without another task to focus my mind, I tend to drift.

So old school syncing it is. I got one more day on my time line to complete the task, and I’m a little behind.