Tag Archives: Rodriguez

Getting Rich – Part 1: Listen to Rodriguez, damn it

There is a common maxim in the world of low-budget, independent film that says to write for locations that you have. In fact, Robert Rodriguez, one our idols and role models in the making of this movie, and wearer of superior head gear, perfected this method, which Stu Maschwitz called “The Rodriguez List.” You make a list of all the stuff you have at your disposal, and then you write your script around those items and locations.

Robert Rodriguez

Robert Rodriguez, whose hats are cooler than my entire wardrobe.

This makes sense on a number of levels. First of all, the financial benefit of this approach is obvious. Things that you have equal things that you don’t have to acquire or make yourself. In Grassman, all of our characters arrive at the forest in vehicles that the actors actually drove to set. No rentals, or special needs; just some consideration for who will be on set with what vehicles for an scenes shot around that location.

Second, it is a great way to figure out early on what you have that will make your film uniquely yours. Taking stock of your inventory of stuff and locals lends itself to a level of personalizing of your script in a way to can add to its authenticity. Writing a scene that takes place in a science lab that you don’t have access to, versus a gravel pit that you do because of your connected uncle “knows a guy” may not have the same feel or tone, but if you make it work, it will have production value like a mofo.

Cover of "Rebel without a Crew: How a 23 ...

Cover via Amazon

Of course, despite our following the Gospel of Rodriguez (Rebel Without a Crew), this was not something I did when writing the script for Grassman. Like the inexperienced, delusional dork that I am, I wrote a film that takes place 90% of the time in the woods. Woods are easy to find, I thought. Hell, if we have to we’ll just do this guerrilla-style, sneaking into local parks and making a Bigfoot movie when no one is looking. Yeah, I know. I was an idiot.

But, that’s what I did. And when I was finished, I had a forest, but also needed a gas station, a cave, a shed, a cliff and a gorge, a large creek. Somehow, this thing seemed a bit bigger than showing up at one of Hamilton County’s fine parks and hoping we weren’t going to get caught. It was a huge feature film, which a lot of action, blood, screaming, fighting, falling, and fire. These thing do not lend themselves to a stealthy guerrilla production.

Robert Rodriguez, Jaime King, & Nick Stahl at ...

Rodriguez with people who actually listen to him.

It became abundantly clear that 1) I had not followed Rodriguez’s sage advice, 2) we needed to run this gig like professionals, not idiots running through public parks until we were banned for life, and 3) we needed an alternative to that. Somewhere where we could be both professionals and idiots, which would lend itself to the film seamlessly and not cost us a thing.  Essentially, we were screwed.

Until, in one magical moment at my real job, when I had a thought that would change everything. A beautiful, serendipitous, life just falling into place moment that made the movie possible. I had my Rodriguez List after I wrote the script in the form of a gentleman that I had known for 5 years. All I had to do was ask and pray that he said yes.

Next week, I will conclude the tale of Rich, the man behind the non-acting character of The Legend of Grassman: the best location a growing filmmaker could hope for.

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Director’s Journal #3

April 20, 2009

I left the house this morning without putting on a jacket. It was cold, but I decided I wasn’t cold. Not sure why I did that. Later, I wondered if it was a symptom of that Ronald Reagan optimistic philosophy bullshit.

Spoke more with the Craig’s List shed guy. He warned me that the shed is falling down and has no roof. I asked him to send me pictures of the other side of it, so I can see how bad it is. Told him we only plan on building a similar crappy shed with it. Then I realized I called his shed ‘crappy.’ Next time, I referred to it as “lived-in.” Must learn new vocab words.

The crappy lived-in shed.

The crappy lived-in shed.

I told him I’d make plans to pick it up this weekend. He offered me a second, smaller shed at a good price. Waiting to see pictures.

Ordered some more prosthetic alginate and plaster bandages so that we can recast Jory’s face. Realized that the cast probably lost its shape cause I loaded it up with too much Ultracal. Next time I will cast a smaller area and not use so much. Also ordered some burlap.

Alginate in action! Cue Barry White music!

Alginate in action! Cue Barry White music!

Hope to do it this weekend if the supplies get here. Maybe in place of the costume fitting that we may not make the deadline for.

Dennis asked if I had anything for our Grassman blog. Never replied to him, but started typing up a summary of what has happened since Saturday. I had been meaning to start keeping a journal anyway. So that after the movie is done, we can publish a book about how we made a movie, only we won’t have to write it. Robert Rodriguez did it. Except he made a movie people were interested in. And he isn’t a jackass.

Likes hats. Wrote a book. Not a jackass.

Likes hats. Wrote a book. Not a jackass.

Bob Balaban did it, too.

No hats. Also, wrote a book. Again, not a jackass.

No hats. Also, wrote a book. Again, not a jackass.

At 2 in the morning, I realized I had spent the entire night typing an over detailed blog when I could have been editing the improv acting test I shot two weeks ago. This is why I never help with the various blogs we do. It takes to damn long. + Stupid, too.

April 21, 2009

Realized I had thinning hair. Got depressed for two days.

Egads!

Needs hat. Hates writing. Jackass.