We’ve been hard at work the last couple months and there have been some exciting things taking place. Here’s a quick(ish) summary:
Annual Bigfoot Conference
Last year, Don Keating, of the Eastern Ohio Bigfoot Investigation Center, was kind enough to let us shoot a scene at his Annual Bigfoot Conference held at Salt Fork State Park in Ohio. As a result, our conference scene will feature several real-life Bigfoot researchers with our fictional ones. We’ve just started doing the necessary legal paperwork, and so far we’ve for Dr. Jeff Meldrum officially on board, and several others who have verbally agreed. Very cool. We’re very thankful to everyone involved. This scene will go a long way to helping make this film the authentically Bigfooty experience we’re hoping to present.
P.S. Them Bigfooters were EXTREMELY nice. Everyone was very helpful and accomodating to me. People get the idea that a Bigfoot Conference is a freak show – I, myself, didn’t know what to expect when I went – but it was really nothing of the sort. Lots of families in attendance and a lot of friendly normal people. The Conference itself was very impressive. If you love you some Bigfoot, it’s really a lot of fun. Go there. Also, I ate a Bigfoot cookie.
Cleveland Shoot with Lynn Lowry
Most of March was spent planning for what turned out to be our most expensive shoot on the film. We have a short scene where Stephan’s character goes off by himself and meets a stranger living in an old, creepy house. We had been talking about getting a name actor for a small role in our film… for years really, before we even started working on Grassman. With our original budget, this wasn’t really a possibility, but I’ve been making some extra money by working on sports shoots on the side, and I felt with this scene – and with the slight break in our schedule caused by the cold weather – that it was a perfect opportunity to learn this particular skill. I’ve begun thinking of The Legend of Grassman as my film school and so I like to set up lessons for myself – to teach myself specific skills. Since 1999 when I took Dov S S Simens’ 2 Day Film School, I had become aware that I had the power to not only produce my own film right now (this was a novel idea for me at the time) but also to get a name actor in that movie. It’s not a superpower. Anyone can do it. All you need is a project, money, and the ability to stop being a chicken shit. Finally I found myself in a position where I had all three.
So we picked an actress and I went after her. Used that IMDb Pro to get her manager’s contact info. Emailed him with an offer and immediately received a response to give him a call that night. I was terrified, but I wrote down notes about what kind of film we were doing and about the role and called him up and tried to subdue my chickenshitness. When I hung up, it occurred to me that there’s no reason to be nervous. I’m hiring someone to do a job. Like calling a plumber. I offer them money and they either say yes or no. So I hung up, feeling like a badass. A total badass.
The phone call did not get me an actress. It did, however, give me a direction to head in. I had never heard of Lynn Lowry or seen any of her films at this point, but once I took a look at her demo reel, I knew I wanted her. Eventually, I was able to get in touch with her, make an offer, negotiate (holy shit, I’m negotiating with an actress) and we made a deal.
In my dumbass mind, I thought I could do this for cheaper if I went to her rather than flying her to Cincinnati. She was scheduled to be in Cleveland (about 5 hours away) soon for the Cinema Wasteland horror convention, so we planned to shoot then. I paid to change her flight (which was more expensive than I imagined) and put her up in her hotel room for a couple extra days.
Then came the process of finding a location in a city I had only visited a handful of times. I was looking for an old Victorian house. I had this idea that the scene should be like a quick trip to Psycho or Dracula, in the midst of a film that was took most of its inspiration from 1970’s Bigfoot movies and 1930’s adventure films. Chuck Gove, from Haunted Cleveland Ghost Tours, was kind enough to direct me to the Robert Russell Rhoades House, a 19th century home currently occupied by the Cuyahoga County Archives.
The people I spoke with from the County were very accommodating, helpful, and eager to work with us. Unfortunately, due to the historic nature of our location, there were extra expenses involved, including liability insurance for the duration of the shoot. (We don’t do no insurance.) To that, add the cost of gas for two trips up and back (location scout, and shoot), rental car (my wife and mother-in-law insisted my car wouldn’t make it (thankfully)) food and hotel rooms for the crew (thank goodness for Priceline) and it became an extremely expensive shoot compared to what we are accustomed to.
So, a terrible idea for a no-budget movie. Don’t shoot five hours away to try to piggyback on your actress’ convention schedule. This is probably a no-brainer, but being an idiot, it’s tough for me to tell.
As a film school class, it was AWESOME. Money well-spent. College can go suck it. Our location was incredible. Lynn was absolutely amazing to work with. She’s very easy going and incredibly talented. Watching Lynn perform our script, I felt like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert – she was amazing. I’ve never had raw footage that was so fun to watch.
We recently had a great shoot at the Little River Cafe in Oregonia, Ohio. It’s for one of those exposition scenes that set up the movie at the beginning. Justine Moore joined our cast as a waitress. And thanks to Mark Burris, who owns the restaurant and was gracious enough to allow us to shoot there, we also had – for the first time ever – EXTRAS! It was weird. We never have extras. I didn’t know what to do with them.
In addition to Lynn and the Bigfoot researchers, we’re working on getting a couple more guest stars, which we will tell you about when the contracts are signed.
Stephan Meyer, who plays one of our main characters, just finished up the last of his scenes this past Saturday, so we have kicked him off the set. This leaves two more main characters, who’ll be finished up soon, and a couple short scenes involving different actors. Production is almost DONE. Seriously.