Film Editing

May 19, 2001 - Reshoot end of party scene #2

We all went back to Dave Chubets house and refilmed the ending of scene 106. (The cow sequence with Kim Lannon party.) We shot this scene originally back on September 24, 2000. By mistake, I ended up with a roll of double-perf 16mm film as my only unexposed roll at the end of the day. Since I'm shooting in Super 16mm, this film will work, but you have to optically blow it up a bit to obscure the sprocket holes on one side of the frame. By reshooting it, I won't lose any quality and save a pile of money when the time comes to cut the negative. I shot with the double perf anyways just to give me something to edit into the scene.

I had to remove John Horrigan from the scene because he was no longer available. He arrived later in the day when we first did the shoot back on September 24th, so he was only filmed in "singles". Because of this, it was easy to replicate his shots with someone else, so we ended up dividing his lines between Juliet and Phil. At first this was a concern, but seeing that he also wasn't in the cow scene (shot on November 5, 2000), this would make sense that he wasn't at this party at all.

It was a pretty uneventful day. I was able to improve on my lighting a bit so it looked like it was shot a night. (We had to black out all the windows with plastic garden trim.) The one snafu was Phil lost his the shirt he had used on the first day. He found something that was vaguely like it, but is definitely different. (His original shirt was a striped orange and red thing, he showed up with a solid red thing with a couple of blue stripes.) I moved him to the end of the couch and shot closeups of everyone else around him. It'll definitely be a continuity error, but what the hell, it'll be great trivia for those nitwits who look for that sort of thing. The change happens after I establish that night has fallen and everyone is leaving. I could always claim that after vomiting on Amandas couch, Phils character CHANGED his shirt earlier that night. :-P

July 4, 2001 - Pounding away at editing, graphics and music.

Woo hoo! After having been ignored by my corporate clients for the past few weeks, I've been able to get a major portion of the editing done! (Who needs to make money when your doing ART.) At this point, I've got an assembled 82 minute version of the film. I still need to shore up the last two scenes, but I've got all the sequences in place.

We sorta have a two man crew working on all this stuff. Johnny is upstairs on his computer working on all the computer screen close ups. (The same spot where we fiilmed the Bond boys as siamese twins.) I think I expressed some concern earlier that the scenes where Johnny is at home, conversing with Enigma online, might end up being kinda dull. I've been told that they are actually kinda engaging!

We simulated some software called "Chat Chateau." It's based on "The Palace" software, where people use avatars (icons) to represent themselves online while they type out messages to each other. I had rendered a virtual chat "Palace" a couple of years ago when I was doing this sort of thing. At the time it was called "The Wedgie Palace", and some guy had the thing running on his server. I had designed and rendered all the 3D graphics. I also created a pink, bald head that had a lot of expressions that I could use while I typed. I used this as the John avatar you see in the production.

A little side note: my cute little expressive head was very popular when I was doing it at the time. Many people wanted to use it, but I wanted to keep my own little identity. USA Today had done an article on the different ways people communicate on the Internet, and my little avatar head was shown in the photograph that was associated with this article. You can see the article here. Guess what...apparently The Palace software is no longer supported or distributed by the company that owns it, but you can still find it if you look (as of August 2001).

I wanted to have these "Chat Chateau" shots look as dynamic as possible, so I wanted to do a lot of camera moves on these screens. They weren't very big, so it's extremely difficult to perform smooth camera moves on something that needs to be magnified so greatly. By digitally blowing them up or shrinking them, you could recreate fluid camera moves with an animation program like After Effects. That way when the time came to film these shots, you could just lock the camera down and have the digital files do all the motion for you. It also takes a long time to set these up and render them. Well, we don't have money but we've got time, so Johnny has been slamming these sequences together for the past few weeks. I think we my end up with over 12 minutes of animation when we're done, but we still haven't actually FILMED these parts yet, we are still waiting for an LCD monitor.

I've been downstairs working on the editing and writing music. I needed to come up with something to accompany John while types at his keyboard. I had initially used some Tangerine Dream music as a scratch track. I was hoping to plagiarize this style of music (lots of fast arpeggios), but when a couple of people heard it, they immediately went, "Oh! Risky Business!" I figured I'd better come up with something different.

My initial thought was to make it actually SOUND like someone typing. I had come up a formula where each letter that John typed would correspond to a note on the keyboard. By making the vowels chord tones, and the odd letters (like x and z) very dissonant (but rarely used) it could actually sound like some sort of music that was in some sort of key (verses completely atonal like the 12 tone stuff Schoenberg did.) It sounded interesting, but was too "garky" and didn't have any sort of "groove" that you could latch on to. (Note: I'm a bass player at heart, so I like to have something that has a sort've melody.)

What I finally did was use many different rhythmic instruments (bongos, triangles, weird middle eastern stuff) that were played almost randomly, but formed a pattern over the course of a few bars. Under that I played a standard bass part that had some sort of structure. I thought that by using the many different kinds of drum instruments, they mimicked the sound of someone typing at a keyboard. My keyboard (Ensoniq ZR-76) had a ton of these rhythmic instruments built in, in addition to all the sample disks I have for my Digidesign SampleCell II card.

August 13, 2001 - STILL more pounding...graphics, editing and music.

Boy are we getting there! I've got everything edited together and it looks like the film will be 85 minutes in length. It's been weeks of slamming together the music, Johns been working away on the intro, and I've been finishing up a bunch of the other graphic elements that need to be inserted into the film. I now have a final "punch list" of things that need to be done. (And there isn't THAT many things on it.) It's amazing how long all these little details are taking just to get to this point.

I've been sort've avoiding doing the final board room sequence where everything blows up on Irene as Mr.Williams watches. (the big ending) To start, I needed to record a voice over for the fake marketing video that everyone watches. I got John Lasanti (a professional voice over guy) to read some completely surreal marketing copy. He seemed interested in this project, so he did me a big favor in letting me use his voice. Therese (my girlfriend/Shelly the Mechanic) and I had taken two-word business sounding phrases, wrote them onto slips of paper, mixed them up then tried to make sentences that were at least grammatically correct, didn't make any sense...but SOUNDED like they were official business jargon. I even threw in a passage from the Beatles "I Am The Walrus" for good measure. When I asked John Lasanti if he's ever done a read like that, he said...."pretty close."

I had used a cut off one of those typical Industrial Music libraries as a scratch track for this marketing video. I wanted to redo it in very much the same style (so I wouldn't have to pay for it 'cause it would be mine). Surprisingly I had a difficult time aping those stupid horn sections that they usually use in music like this. Since I was redoing it anyway, I added some "weirdness" to the orchestration when the scene does a dramatic turn when Irene gives Rob a bl0w j0b in the video. (That's an IMPLIED bl0w j0b.)

I had a bunch of different elements to get together to finish up Janets "Up The Skirt Cam" sequence. Everyone in the office starts to check out different websites that feature webcams on them. Well, someone had to create all those stupid, fake webpages. Since they were all animated (for the camera, not the user), I had to do everything at twice the normal size (in Photoshop) then animate all the typical system stuff (mouse/scroll bar movements) in After Effects. Pain in the ass.

Mongos webpage took me a couple of days to create, animate and render. We had grabbed a bunch of shots of Brian White mugging with all these knives back on November 18th. I needed to create a fake emblem for Mongos fake motorcycle gang called "Satans Spawn." (That's spawn as in little fish.) Johnny and Therese both got a laugh when they saw it. I figured what would be more stupid than a fire breathing fish. (They can only breath fire when they jump out of the water...but they certainly LOOK mean.)

I recently had lunch with Andy Ihnatko. (The writer guy for MacWorld.) He pitched me his idea for a little story that he wants to do, and I got him to be in this production. I still need to shoot the fake intro to the "Death Faces" video everyone watches at Amanadas party number one. He seemed up for it, I just need to find a suitable location to do it. I'm hoping to find a morgue or funeral home to do it in, since the original video was supposed to have been filmed at one. The hard part is telling people at funeral homes we want to film there, it's for a funny movie and the bit will be kinda silly. (What will the dead people think?) :-P

Jim Barron, and friend of mine that I've known for a long time, recently contacted me. He got laid off his job, got a nice severance check and is now ready to milk unemployment. He's willing to help out in the project and I think I found a spot to work in him. He's one of my original drinking buddies from my late 20's that went through a lot of the exploits this movie is based on. When I showed him the club scene, he cracked up big time when he recognized a lot of the exploits we went through together. I think I actually asked him at one time in a nightclub (after dancing with some woman), "What did that accomplish? Did you get her phone number?" (How could I? We were DANCING!) Since Jims a gun nut with plenty of firearms, I worked him into the Death Faces sequence where he hung out of a window while holding his AK-47 to his Jack-Russell Terriers' head and screamed, "I'M GONNA SHOOT THIS DOG!!"

Film makers note: always work in a cute, furry animal into your production. You can easily manipulate the "aaaaaahh" response, they work cheap and you can always get a laugh by pointing an assault rifle at their heads.

Disclaimer for the anal-rententive, P.C. nitwits out there: The gun wasn't loaded, the safety was on, the dog wasn't harmed (in fact, he enjoyed all the attention he was getting), and Jim (who is a fire arms safety instructor) felt bad about handling his weapon in such a manner. (I cajoled him into it.) But if there ARE any N.R.A. or A.S.P.C.A. members out there bothered by this footage...bl0w me. :-)

We also have the Coolidge Corner Theatre booked to show this film in their video projection room on September 8th. I'm now highly motivated to get this project in it's final form. Because this is only a screening of a work in progress to the cast and crew, it only cost me $150. I told my number one corporate client, "I'm going to be real hesitant about working for you in the few weeks before my September 8th showing." I guess the film Gods decided to give me the finger because a few days later they call me to say that they'll be looking for a ton of cameramen to shoot EVERY DAY (real easy shoots/full pay) in the three weeks BEFORE my Coolidge Corner showing, and the job will be over the following Monday AFTER the showing. We're talking about $5,000 worth of work here.

I told them to book me last. I need my space and time to be an artist. (Christ.) :-P

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