Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nice Diggs

So today was super-productive. Heavy on the great, light on the terrible. Despite the subject matter. You may remember that in my second weekly update I mentioned auditioning Curt Rose. I didn't tell you what part he'd be getting, though some of you probably guessed. But if it wasn't clear then, his reappearance with a shaved head should be a dead giveaway now.

"Is it Lex Luthor? I think you guys might not be doing this right..."
That's right, today we finally knocked out our biggest missing chunk; Oscar Diggs, the great and terrible Oz himself. We got an early start at 7:30 this morning, which was actually a half hour later than it was supposed to be. We had more packing to do than we had time-budgeted for. But it didn't phase Curt, who met us at the storage facility and was very enthusiastic about getting started as quickly as possible.

And also vaguely threatening.
We spent the first half of our five hour block working on a single scene. This was the moment when our heroes discover Oz for what he is. It's a massive dialogue sequence with five characters, and between Dorothy, Scarecrow, and Oz it's now been my least favorite scene to shoot three times in a row. Curt was a trooper during its filming, though, having to spend the entire time huddled on the floor.

In contrast, my favorite stuff was by far the three scenes in which he gives the Oz trio the things that they think they want. Curt logged a lot of prop mileage in that one. My favorite prop didn't even completely exist until last night. That being a creation of Sean's, which he dubbed "Mega-Chester." What is it, you ask? Our frequent readers may well guess. It's an unholy monstrosity, a plus-sized version of the original Scarecrow puppet.

Here's a taste. That is entirely too much head.
Why do we need this behemoth when we already have the existing puppet? Well, Dorothy is being scaled up in the movie, to give the appearance of an Oz populated by little people. Since Dorothy interacts with the puppet, that means she's the only human he's to scale with. But not the only human he needs to interact with. In order to ensure that the grown-ass men who need to deal with Scarecrow look to scale, we were gonna need a bigger puppet.

We didn't just use it with Curt, either. Once we finished with him at 12:30, we went over to Lloyd Adams' property. He's the man who's allowing us to use his one-room schoolhouse for Kansas photography. But he also has a barn that was perfect for our needs today. We used it to knock out part one of the Scarecrow flashback, featuring our dashing day-players; writer Sean Gates and poster artist Jeremy Bertz.

"That sure is a purty mouth... That you painted..."
This shooting flowed smoothly, especially considering that it's one take that lasts about a minute, and has a lot to choreograph. Once that was wrapped, we did one of the silliest things we've ever done. We pulled off the highway and guerrilla-filmed Sean and Jeremy in their ridiculous costumes in the middle of an empty field. We don't actually need it for the movie, I just wanted to publicly shame them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

All-American Chopper

Today the time came for me to pay for my sins. For so long I have teased Sean and Steve about looking ridiculous, and now my own time has come. Today we filmed my little cameo, a non-speaking role as one Nick Chopper, the original human form of the Tin Woodman. And it was a pretty awesome day. Maybe one of my favorites.

For reasons that may become apparent later.
Yes, that is location imagery you're seeing. I knew I wanted to do something stylistically different with Scarecrow and Woodman's flashbacks, but I was never really sure what. Grading them a heavy sepia wasn't going to cut the mustard. After discovering the Yaglas and their multi-home property, an idea began to form. Like the Kansas scenes, the flashbacks would all be location. That way the fantastical, stylized Oz we have is only present when we're experiencing scenes through Dorothy's eyes. To the people who live there, it's just as mundane as Kansas is to Dorothy.

But with more whimsicality and less soul-crushing depression.
The Yaglas kindly agreed to let us use their property again, and we were allowed access to another lovely period house they have. That takes care of one crucial element of the shoot, but Woodman's tragic backstory is nothing without a Nimmie Amee to woo. Which meant we got to spend part of the afternoon with a newcomer to our production; the effervescent Tina Cody. She graciously drove down from DC to spend a couple of hours performing the small role of Nimmie.

And at least half that time working around my screw-ups.
After we filmed her two short scenes, we bade Tina farewell, and Sean and I took to the woods for an equally important, but far less satisfying, round of footage. That being the montage in which Nick Chopper dismembers himself, limb by limb. There was an initial awkwardness inherent to the fact that I was framing shots with and directing myself, which I learned today isn't a super-terrific process, even with the help of a friend. There was also the whole limb-loss thing...

When in doubt, go method.
I had to don the chromakey green suit under my Nick Chopper wardrobe, and reveal it bit by bit as we slowly worked our way through my body parts. Each time a new limb presented itself, we had to break so Sean could cut tape markers for me to apply to the suit for tracking purposes. To facilitate the placement of CGI Woodman limbs. It's also difficult to figure out physically workable ways with which to dismember yourself with an axe.

It was slow work, and these short bits ended up taking more time to shoot than the earlier scenes featuring minor dialogue and three characters, (Nick, Nimmie, and her mean old boss). But both shoots went quite well and we got a lot of footage I'm pretty excited by. Most of which is more or less done right off the bat. Which is just oh-so nice.

Tomorrow's going to be another busy day, so I'll be giving you another in-depth report, skipping the weekly update.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Gart's Filthy Lesson

As I mentioned on Saturday, we were filming Gart today, back when today was still Sunday. Today's technically Monday now, but it's still Sunday to me. We left for Fredericksburg at 2:30 and didn't make it back until nearly 11:30. Hence the lateness of this posting. That's a fairly lengthy shoot period for us, but it wasn't too bad considering we knocked out all six of Gart's scenes.

And also a quick music video for 90's MTV.
I keep saying Gart like everybody should know who that is, but you don't. I should explain. A lot of the Witch's motivations are conveyed through her thoughts in the book, and that doesn't really work for a movie. So Sean gave her a Winkie Captain sidekick to bounce dialogue off of, allowing us to actually know what's up with her. As the film progresses, we learn that he's quite a reluctant sidekick, and he ultimately ends up serving as an ally to Dorothy.

Because who wouldn't trust THIS face?
As mentioned previously, Gart is played by the performer behind Scarecrow (literally), Steven Lowry. It was fun to get the chance to work with him in a scenario where he could actually make eye contact with me and operate at regular human speeds. And it was good to have him for our first storage unit victim, as it allowed us to work out all the first-time kinks with somebody more understanding than a relative stranger.

"So Clayton, just a little note for the next time... Maybe keep the pants on, yeah?"
Filming was mostly quite simple and uneventful, primarily a lot of dialogue. There were some fun bits, though. For one, we shot his last three scenes first, and his first three last. The eagle-eyed among you may be able to pick out the picture in which Steve is not sporting the stubble he grew for the part. After we shot the last three scenes, he went and shaved his face for the first three. This allowed us to show the passage of time after the Witch's death, without actually having to wait for... time.

We also shot a few specific actions, such as the Cap of Quelala presentation. You saw half of it in this raw frame, with Sean standing in for Gart and handing the cap off to Mare. This time Sean got to step into Dorothy's silver shoes and receive the cap from our actual Gart. A little bit of morphing or whatever trickery Drew prescribes will grant us a hopefully seamless hand-off.

I don't have a joke for this one, I just want to point out how HARD they appear to be concentrating...
And that's really about it. Gart's now in the can, which is nice. He represented one of the more sizable parts we had left to film. But not the MOST sizable. That one's in the late planning stages, so look for some juicy deets on that bad boy sometime in the near future.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Weekly Round-Up 03

Saturday strikes again. Without warning. WITH vengeance. Let's run another round-up, shall we?

At the beginning of the week, Sean and I had some more auditions to conduct. We found ourselves driving to various locations in the beautiful, sunny state of Virginia to meet with some interested parties. Perhaps the most exciting place we wound up was the parking lot of the Udvar-Hazy Center. S'all about the halfway point, baby.

Were this graded cyan and orange, you might recognize it as the building from Michael Bay's seminal film, Transformers 2: Transform Harder.
We also received a number of very good online auditions. And we'll be using some of those people to fill some currently (well, ex-currently) empty roles! More on that... as I feel like it. Stuff is still arriving by mail, and we're finally starting to have complete things. I convinced Sean to cameo as the Munchkin in the past who built the Scarecrow, since... he's the Munchkin who built the Scarecrow... in the past. All we need now for him, and Jeremy Bertz, who will portray his compatriot, are the hats.

And maybe a little dignity, if we can scrounge some up.
But the first costume completed is a new face but an old friend. Our kooky pal Steven Lowry, known to some for the striking form he cuts in a chromakey suit, long ago expressed an interest in playing a normal human person. Since we thought this might be a little outside of his wheelhouse, we offered him the role of Gart, the Wicked Witch of the West's right hand man. We met up with Monsieur Lowry earlier today to set-up the green-screen in our storage unit, and to let him try on the costume.

You all may want to check out my new art installation; "Photos of Desperate Men Making Questionable Life Decisions in Corridors."
Kind of exciting to see our first Winkie in the flesh. And tomorrow we'll see him in the flesh-er, as we film the Gart elements for scenes in the Wicked Witch's castle. That'll probably warrant a full entry of its own, what do you think?