Thursday, August 23, 2007

Graduates Locations Sneak Peek

We realize we have tens of fans waiting with bated breath for any photos from set that might leak to the bloodthirsty press... Well, wait no longer! I've uploaded some pics from one of our favorite locations, the Assateague Market.

We could not be more excited about shooting at the market. Like everyone else we've met down here, they're extremely friendly, and I hope we bring them some good business after you all see the film and realize your next vacation simply has to be Assateague Island.

Our producer Caitlin Marshall found this little beauty. For those not familiar with the area, Assateague is a small island just south of Ocean City, and it's famous for its wild horses, hence the pony on the Market's handpainted sign. Hundreds of wild horses roam the island, living off of wild grass and injured/young sea gulls.

A little note about locations. I think everybody kind of looks for the personality of a location... Is it new and cookie-cutter, or old and weather-worn? Is it pristine and fragile, or cramped and moldy? Is it free, or not?

There's value in all of the above. The important question to ask is "what information will this image give to our audience?" Take this image:

EXT 2

To me, as an audience member, this says: rural, near water, nostalgia... "Nostalgia" is an important vibe at this point in the script- the characters are all psyched to be going to Beach Week, making big plans, and everything is fun and games. You could say it's their innocent period.

Everything about this market harkens back to the 1950's, and what could be more innocent than the 1950's? Aside from the Cold War, McCarthyism, The Bomb, Segregation and Elvis it was a pretty swell time. I don't remember MD in the 1950's very well, but the Assateague Market makes me feel like I do. Great location.

Here's the inside, where five of our main characters have one of their many conversation about, ahem, love...

INT 1

You'll notice that there's a sale on both Arbor Mist and Tasty Cakes, or as we call it in Maryland, breakfast.

Rehearsals in NYC this Monday and Tuesday, locking up some more locations next week... Look for more updates coming soon...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

San Fran Indie Film Fest > Ocean City, Maryland

Just got back from the SF Shorts Fest (and put some new pics up)... DELETED SCENES was met with laughter, and unlike middle school this was invited laughter. Josh, Brian, Holly, Jerry and Logan looked great on the big screen.


Getting laughs with stuff you wrote... it's like a drug. I went back to my room after the screening and wrote for a while. I scribbled notes about how to make The Graduates funnier. One of the notes said "make it funnier." Off to a good start.


Seriously, it was a great time. And the filmmaker Q&A following the screening was also a great time. Someone asked what I do for a living. I explained I make those really awful training videos with titles like "Don't Touch Your Coworker," and "Wear Your Seatbelt." It pays the bills. Some of them. The small bills, like cable and internet.


Someone else asked why I insisted on doing the Q&A sans pants. It all goes back to my previous post about creating buzz. Created a lot of buzz standing up there in my gerdle. I spelled that franetically, so just let it go. I don't really care how to spell gerdle.


I'm heading to Ocean City, MD now. Going to live there for two months and shoot my first feature. I'll be video blogging for most of the shoot as well as posting Indie Filmmaking Tips and Tricks- short video blogs about how we make/fake the filmmaking process on a budget of negative dollars. Here's a hint: we beg like the dirty beggars we are! People can be moved by a weeping, groveling filmmaker, they really can. At least, I hope they can because we have a biiig cast and crew following us down to OCMD to shoot The Graduates in like 3WKS LOL OMG!!!


Stay tuned, come back soon, and check out the updated content as the shoot progresses. We'll be putting cast photos up as well as the video blogs. I'm rambling. Shut up, Ryan! Thanks for checking in.


Ryan

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

First Table Read of THE GRADUATES!

Wow. Last night we had our first table read for THE GRADUATES, our coming of age comedy. Everyone was hysterical. Every actor in our production is a gem, and everyone of them was brilliant at the read-through.

First things first: everyone was on time, in good spirits, ready to read. Nothing lifts me more than getting the vibe that the actors are feeling the project. They are everything. If they're not into it, it's going to show.

I said a few words about the shooting schedule and the business end of things, and then talked about what I consider to be one of the most important issues facing us: money. Some would argue that this is THE most important issue facing us. They're right. Good thing they're producing and not me.

I tend to write big, cinematic moments that I can absolutely not afford to shoot. So in true indie style, we get creative and figure out a way to make it happen. But generally speaking, in order to make it happen, we need every dollar up on screen (read: no dollars for, say, food). So actors and crew need to know from day one that a lot of the perks we've seen or heard of others having on set are simply not feasible- things like running water, shelter... Just kidding, cast of The Graduates

Tangent: I remember seeing the contract that Steven Soderbergh gave his actors on Full Frontal (2002). He was already a mega-producer, had just made about a trillion dollars on Ocean's Eleven, probably could've gotten a Casablanca remake greenlighted if he wanted, but he did this tiny little indie film. The contract had ten points, things like:

"drive yourself to and from set"
"do your own makeup and wardrobe"
"no trailers"

The film starred Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Catherine Keener, David Duchovny, and Blair Underwood, amongst others.

So anyways, everyone was receptive to the down and dirty shooting style. Do they know what they're in for? Probably not. It's going to be an amazing experience. If it were up to me we would head down there for a month with no lights, just a camera, sound and actors, live like hippies in a commune and make our little film while living off the land and our own ingenuity. Maybe grow our own food. Except for Ledo's Pizza, which we would pony up for because it is delicious and can not be grown in a garden.

But other people's money is involved, so we're not exactly shooting this like Easy Rider. The film is funny enough to be popular and smart enough to be provoking. So it's worth the investment to make this a distributable picture. And we will.

After the reading I held a little session with Josh, Matt and a handful of close friends involved in the production. We spent ten minutes debating who had the funniest lines in the read through. It was a twelve-way tie. Then we made fun of me for sweating constantly. It's New York in the summer. Screw you guys, it's humid. Then we got to the script.

We all agreed the main character's arc could use some jiggering, but the most interesting question for me was Holly's: "what is this film really about?" That was a good debate- is it youth and sex? The first time you realize who you are or who you are becoming? Is it about differentiating between friends and people-you-grew-up-with? Or is it just about taking the next step in life, whether you're 18 or 80?

One of the reasons this is such an interesting question is because in a screenplay, you MUST know the answer to this question before your script is a movie. Movies, whatever their scope, are about one thing. If you don't know what that one thing is, you don't really have a movie (right?). You might have a novel though.

Anyways, moving onto the next draft, a ton of decisions will be informed by the answer to that question. Now... I'm off to try and find the answer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pre Production Begins on THE GRADUATES

It just occurred to me: I haven't been to the emergency room in a while. That's a nice feeling...

Ten days before I directed my first short last August (still unreleased) I had a bike accident in Central Park and tore my ACL, MCL, and some cartiledge. The meds were nice, but it sucked limping around set for six days.

About six months later, a week after directing DELETED SCENES, while assistant directing my friend Tom's film, my back went out thanks to a lumbar fracture from an old football injury. I spent three days in bed. Had to pee in a cup next to the bed because I couldn't walk. That was painful.

Six months later we're now in preproduction for THE GRADUATES, my first feature. I'm crossing my fingers.

Funny sidenote: back in college I played football. Well, I was on the team. "Played" is a little misleading. Anyway, I was kicking fieldgoals with some friends before a Friday practice. Nevermind I was a third-string quarterback. We were seeing who could kick the longest field goal. The competition was heating up (I'm a little competitive by nature...) and we moved the ball back to about a 40 yard field goal. I take a couple extra steps back, get a good running start, kick as hard as I can, and... kick so f-ing hard I knee myself in the nose. Blood shoots everywhere. I start swinging, thinking someone punched me. I stop when I realize no one is within twenty yards of me. My friends, in shock, slowly start laughing as they realize I just broke my own nose... with my knee.

Seriously, I'm crossing my fingers.