Tag Archives: GH1

Director’s Journal #11 – Still Getting There…

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.

Me and Bob Gimlin

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

Where the hell are we going?

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.

Lynn Lowry bringin' it...

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.

Other Stuffs

Shooting in Real Restaurant = Production Value

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.

Seriously.

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Feel the heat! More shooting, more good times.

It has been a while since our last post. It has also been a while since we have shot anything. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, our real lives, the things we do that pay the bills, have been kind enough to really interfere in our filmmaking time. Two, availability. Making a micro-budget movie tends to put you at the mercy of the schedule of the people who are kind enough to volunteer their time to your endeavor. And third, it has been apocalypticly hot out. Every time we turn on the weather report, it’s another Heat Emergency. And, let’s face it – a bigfoot movie with a dizzy sasquatch that passes out in every scene is not really what we are going for.

So, we’re determined to grab the days when we can and get this film finished before the fall (or rather, before Mother Nature decides to mess with us again). In the meantime, we have been working on what we can; Tyler editing our footage into a very viewable rough cut, myself working on some scene rewrites, our make-up FX  head creating and testing new blood formulas (enjoying it a little too much sometimes, I think).  So, without further ado, or excuses, I give you Day 23 of shooting.

Day 23 – August 1, 2010

After a day of purchasing supplies, dusting off the wardrobe, arranging the availability of the actors, and confirming a shooting location,  the team was ready to begin another intensive day of shooting in the woods.

Tyler and his army of one.

We arrived on location and I was pleased to see a familiar face onset: Kirk. Kirk has been a friend of Tyler’s for many moons, and he helped us out on our short film The Projection Booth. He had been following our progress via this wonderful blogstrosity here, and had offered his services should we need. Hell yeah, we do! In fact, just a few nights before I had told Tyler that he desperately needed a right-hand man, or two, to work with him through the organized chaos that is our shooting style. Being so short-staffed, while intentional, has also been a bit of a hindrance.

So, it was cool to see Kirk again after all this time. And it eased my mind to know that Tyler had someone there whom he knew and trusted, and who knew him and his bizarreness, to provide needed support. Kirk would be our sound guy this shoot. Awesome!

You think you're above the law?

Stephan, Max, and I geared up. Today would be a actiony day. Two scenes, both with a fair share of running, ducking, jumping, falling, and slamming into trees.  The first 2/3 of the day was a lot of me doing the aforementioned physical work. It was surprisingly hot, and I was soaked, exhausted, and not feeling well by the time we finished. For some reason, only a handful of water bottles were brought down from the vehicles into the woods, so it was a while still before I got any fluids in me.

"More action hero, and less you, please."

Stephan had a stunt, which he nailed several times very well, and then he and Max had some running of their own to do. And it was done. It’s been rare, but I love when we get a whole scene finished in a day, more-or-less on schedule.

We then headed back out to the Lebanon, OH location for a couple of quick pickup shots for a scene that seemed to be missing some things.

Water... why did it have to be water?

Max was not pleased to find out that he was going to wind up in the creek for what would be the second time.  But, he stuck it out. We shot there for about an hour or so, then called it a day. Everyone did a terrific job and it felt good to get back into the groove. And Kirk jumped right into the mess without missing a beat. It was a good day.

August 2, 2010 – August 4, 2010

I have heat exhaustion, having been severely dehydrated from the 5 hrs in the heat.  I spend the next 3 days dizzy, cramping, nauseous, and swimming in Powerade.  I curse my stupidity for not ensuring we had enough fluids on set because, as a former EMT and US Army Medic, I most definitely know better. I decide that I would rather be accidentally caught on fire again than to let myself get dehydrated like this again. In a light-headed daze, I silently make a Khan-like vow to avenge myself.

Sneak Peek #14: Throwing Fusee onto the Fire