Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Fire, Detours, a shotgun blast and I didn't eat Chinese food today.

Our last day of principal photography. Our location: the Briarwood soundstage next to the REI on Northeast Expressway. Our mission: almost 9 pages of script including the final scene and shot of the film.

Day 12 - Except for day 1, I don't think I was ever on time. I averaged about 15 minutes late everyday. Today it was thirty due to some heavy road construction and a road closure on Briarwood Rd., so I had plenty of company in tardiness. Our script supervisor never showed up at all and Glenda, if you're reading this, we missed you, but how could you desert us for what many postulate was a B-O-Y? Our G & E crew somehow plummeted from about 8 or nine on the first day to 2 on the last, so the PAs pitched in performing light gags.

Our DP Adam just mentioned this a few minutes ago and I think there is a lot of truth in his observation. Shooting the last shot of the film on the last day of filming is special. More than that, it feels right, natural. I'm a big believer in having the first shot of a film and the last shot be exceptional or memorable in some way. When you see a film that has really thought through these two shots, then give them a little extra respect. It's the first impression you give an audience of your film. How could you not make it extraordinary?

Our shooting was of the final scene was delayed for several hours today because of a fire about a mile south of our soundstage. It attracted five local news helicopters and since the Briarwood soundstage is not soundproof AT ALL, we could not complete the scene until dark. The actor playing Watkins, on seeing the location of the plumes of smoke, commented, "Isn't the Pink Pony right around there?" It turned out to be an apartment fire. Since I am bloodied for the final scene, I had to unbloody myself so we could continue shooting, which isn't as annoying as you might believe. Our make-up artist Gretchen is fortunately very good at consistently making the bloody face look exactly the same each time. Local filmmaker Jacob Gentry had a cameo today as an agent with a shotgun. He had a very thin mustache and he looked Asian somehow, even though he's as American as apple pie.

Most of the fun had by me today was the front projection Fear and Loathing inspired montage. We drove the Blood Car onto the soundstage and filmed Archie and Denise driving around acting crazy, drinking, running people over. For a good portion of it, Alex directed me with "Tell us some jokes." Since I don't know any real jokes, I came up with some rather stellar non sequitur jokes. These may not appear funny on the page, but when delivered, they're hilarious. At least to me. I think the reason I wouldn't make a good stand-up comedian is that I laugh at my own jokes. But that's the only way I can convince people to laugh at my jokes, because they laugh at me laughing at my own jokes. Or they just look at me like I'm an idiot. Nevertheless, a few examples:

What do you get when you cross a Vegan with a gold coin? A bank.
What did the Vegan say to the vampire? I need to refinance my car loan.
A rabbi, a butcher, a priest, two Satans, God, the entire Swedish basketball community, and five vegans walk into a bar and the bartender says, "We don't have room for anyone else."
What do you call a vegan at a protest? Unemployed.

Some actors use the method technique to submerge themselves into their character for scenes like this. I use a candy called airheads.

The front projection was shot and edited by our 2nd Unit DP Hugh and local filmmaker Jon Swindall. It looked fabulously weird and luckily no one suffered a seizure. I could have sworn I saw an image of Nosferatu in one of the plates. They shot plates for all sides of the car.

Today felt like an all day party and we just happened to be making a film. There was more laughing on set today than usual and more laptops, too.

Blood Car has changed me. I think I am more sentimental than was when we began. Just like Dr. Seuss's The Grinch story, my heart has grown three sizes. Maybe not that much, but it feels bigger. The FWW guys and I have always talked and jammed about making a feature. From the days when we were still in film school to the summers after graduation we've wished in myriad ways for this. We've envied other local filmmakers for mustering the money and skills to put their scripts onto the screen. Now we can stand amongst them. Don't throw up but this is a dream realized for many of us. More than that, it's encouragement to continue making films and pursuing the most complicated way to make art that there is.

This will be my last post for a while on the topic of Blood Car, but I'll update things as I see fit. I finally found a really good reason to succumb to the blogging trend and it was fruitful and enjoyable and cathartic. Now if I can only find a really good excuse to start a myspace account.

thanks for reading.
mike brune

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The ball was left in Stockbridge.

Today was a day of learning. We faltered forward. The movie is almost over and I am sad for that.

Day 11 - Last night, the actress playing Mrs. Butterfield, Archie's sedentary octogenarian neighbor, canceled for some reason unknown to myself. That left us in a pinch during the morning hours while people scrambled to find a substitute. Luckily, our UPM Becky C., masterfully located one of her sister's former co-workers(something like that anyway) and convinced her to join the production of Blood Car. While we waited for her to show up, we were also waiting for the picture car to arrive, which was left at our location in Stockbridge last night.

The set today was the exterior of Archie's apartment. I don't want to presume the expectations of others, but I, along with others, went in today thinking we didn't have as much to shoot as days before. In fact, it was much more. It seemed like too much was scheduled. I fear the scene of Archie building the blood car suffered due to our rushing. Only editing will confirm/deny that. I could be wrong.

We had a couple new faces on set today that deserve special mention. They are Shawn G. and Day(sic?). The former is actually a former GSU classmate of mine and Hugh. Currently, he is a props assistant in Atlanta and his wealth of on-set experience was invaluable. Day, who I didn't have a chance to get to know very well, seemed equally old hat with the filmmaking business. She also wore a 21 grams knit cap for the first half of the day.

At sundown, we moved to Mi Barrio on Memorial drive to shoot scenes at a Mexican restaurant, which also was dressed for restaurant scenes in a BBQ joint. For the BBQ scene, I had to devour slab after slab of ribs. Because of the season and my laziness in using moisturizer, the sauces stung my hands. This was the most difficult scene in the film for me to play. It did not start that way, but it became that way.

Am I like Archie? Yes, and no. Yes, we have similar dreams. No, I would never kill anyone(Though Katherine who plays Danny, when I told her that comparison, said, "You never know." I guess, technically she's right.) I'd like to be a teacher. I like to ride my bike and and I am mildly obsessive about recycling. Archie is more solitary than I am, at least I think he is. Some might disagree with me there. In summation, I could easily be Archie, without the killing people to fuel a blood-powered automobile of course. That's crazy.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Damn, I f***ed up.

Day 10 - Our first day in the double digits was a spectacular one. We began at the Starlight Drive-In theater on Moreland Ave. For an establishing shot of the drive-in a world without cars, we lined up couples in the various parking spaces in front of a screen with the blood car smack dab in the middle. I didn't know how many extras we were supposed to have, but when I pulled into the parking lot of the drive-in I noticed dozens of cars and racks of clothing just inside the gate. I thought to myself, "Oh my god, we must have 40 extras and a full costume department. As I drove closer, I noticed that it wasn't for Blood Car, but for Starlight's weekly flea market. Alex bought a knee-length jacket once worn by the East German border patrol. Whoever wore it before him must not have been too much bigger.

While we were setting up for a blood gag in which one of the agents has his brains blown onto the window of the blood car, something spiritual happened to me. I sat just outside the concession building in the middle of an empty, wavy parking lot watching the setup down near screen three. I was listening to sad music and suddenly our 2nd Unit DP Hugh started throwing a bouncy ball to our DP Adam. They were at least 50 yards apart. It was so quiet and the air so temperate and calm that I wished I could freeze time and stay in that moment forever. We were making a film on a sunny day in an empty drive-in theater. It felt like a good bible story.

There were an inordinate number of ladybugs flying around and crawling on us at the drive-in. I'm not sure why, but I'm going to uncover the secret. Some man also showed up to throw away garbage at a nearby dumpster. His pit bull was with him and someone said he said it was a fighting dog. If that's true, I hope he goes to jail.

We then moved to a gas station in Stockbridge, which was nostalgic for some of us on the crew because we worked on Stomp!Shout!Scream! there last October. This scene featured the carjacker played by Mister Malt, who I've mentioned earlier. He is part of a burgeoning hip-hop group named The Scavengers. Never before have I met someone so humble and dedicated to a craft he knows nothing about. It was his first time and the jitters were evident, but he treated the scene like he must approach his music, with unfazed concentration, artistry and a critical eye. The heading for this post is a quote from Mister Malt, which he said almost every time he forgot a line. Despite his claims of nervousness, he nailed the scene with flying colors.

Earlier in the day, while our G&E crew was setting up a 20K on some scaffolding with the help of a small condor(a hydraulic lift on wheels), a representative of OSHA stopped by. He scolded us for having two people in the bucket of the lift without safety harnesses. He did not issue us a citation. I'm not sure if he was just driving by and was bored or if he was an asylum escapee in masquerade. A badge was flashed, however.

My quote of the day is from one of our extras: You got blood on my banana.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Archie's it is. Part Two - The classroom

One of the great mysteries of directing and directors, at least for me, is what they say to their actors before a scene or after a scene. What kinds of directions does a director give? Here are few things that have been uttered by our director, Alex.
Wig out.
Go crazy.
The way to play this is with no expression whatsoever. Don't do anything.

You'd be surprised how well some of these directions work.

Day 9 - A close second in the contest for best set in the film is the classroom. Yesterday, in response to a question about the differences between a short and feature for FWW, Alex answered, "Well, we're not used to having production design. So that's different." In this case, different means good, very, very good. Ample props(in joke for the crew!) goes out to Katie, who plays Denise is the film, and who procured numerous dressings for the classroom and really helped bring it to life. She is a teacher herself.

You can tell the shoot is nearing a close, because only a few crew members are left who have not been featured yet.

About 7-8 kids showed up today to play the students in Archie's classroom. I must confess it is a complete joy to play opposite the kids, even during scenes when Archie is just reading to them and they are quiet and attentive. I was sorry to see them go. Of all the parts of the classroom, the centerpiece was the blackboard, which is actually green not black; and each continuity day presented the art crew and myself with a tabula rosa in which to let our imaginations run wild.

Our lunch conversation today raised some prickling questions about what makes a man a man and a half-man a half-man. According to Katherine, who plays Danny, only if you have kids are you a man. If not, you guessed it, you're a half-man. But for some reason, if you're a woman, you don't have to have kids to in fact be a woman. She may have been speaking extemporaneously, but I sensed a strong conviction. Unfortunately, it's a double standard. I do not want to digress too much, so I'll end things here.

Besides, I'm about to fall asleep.

Arbitrary note: I was told my Stephanie, our costumer, and Gretchen, our key hair/make-up, that I would make a good drag queen.

Archie's it is. Part One - The apartment

My apologies for not blogging yesterday, but we worked a seventeen hour day on Friday, and though I could have found the strength to post, I decided to clean my bathroom instead. That may sound strange, but I'll come to that.

Day 8 - First day of a Fake Wood Wallpaper production with the fire department on set. That is a milestone we all should be proud of reaching. Both the meat and the vegan stand went up in glorious flames in the parking lot of Bill Orr's flea market. Nothing survived in the vegan stand, including Lorraine. However, two things survived the fire of the meat stand: the giant steak sign on top of the stand and our 2nd AD's cell phone. His name is Dan and he remembered he left it in there while it was on fire. Luckily, it still functions and is only cosmetically marred, which in the current cellphone climate, could be socially disastrous.

Two members of the press visited our set today and snapped photographs of Lorraine being burned alive, which is just a gag shot on a long lens. They proceeded to interview myself, Katie and Alex. I'm worthless in these situations because after any question no matter how simple, I take extremely long, thoughtful pauses in hopes of making some future Bartlett's worthy quote. At that point, the interviewer is just tired of staring at me and being uncomfortable, as if they had just asked me to summarize a 1000 page economics text. Luckily, Katie and Alex were there to bail me out of looking like a dolt.

From there we moved back to Alex's father's house and shot the scene where Archie and Lorraine ride in the blood car and flirt awkwardly. I can't imagine any picture car in the history of motion pictures to be as dirty and nasty as the blood car. As we pulled out to do the first take, I noticed a coffee mug on the floorboard of the driver's seat right side up mind you with the tiniest pool of coffee swirling inside. Since mugs won't fit in most cupholders, I guess that's the only convenient place for it. Aside from that, it is floating in trash: foamcore scraps, gum, broken CDs, partially eaten biscuits. It goes on and on and I'm not listing set dressings by the way. I shouldn't be surprised because most people's cars end up in this state eventually.

From there we moved to my apartment in Midtown, where we filmed a great FX scene of Archie cutting open his arm with a straight razor and tubing blood into an empty milk carton. Toby Sells, who created a prosthetic model of my forearm, helmed this one and it made me and most of the crew quite uneasy. Some of us even had to look away as the blood began to flow. Nice work, Toby.

We also shot the bulk of the scenes that are set in Archie's apartment, which is probably the best looking set in the film.

Our behind the scenes cameraman has the great problem of filming all of the time, even when you don't want him to. He's making up for the lack of BTS for the entire first week, which is good. Our official still photographer was also on set today. Her name is Linnea.

Oh, right, the bathroom. Well, we shot Archie's bathroom scenes in my apartment's bathroom. If you've ever opened your home to a film crew, then you know how trashed it can become. I just cannot bear showering in a tub with blood pooled up inside it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Lentil Loaf

Once upon a time, there was a Vegan Stand. Across the from the Vegan Stand there was a Meat Stand. They were the only two stands in a forlorn gravel lot where it always rained. Lorraine operated the Vegan Stand and she had very few customers. Denise operated the Meat Stand and she had more customers than Lorraine, but still not very many. Often times, Denise would steal Lorraine's customers. Lorraine didn't like this, but she was powerless to stop it. One day, the Vegan Stand suffered a tragic accident with Lorraine inside. We have not seen her since.

Day 7 - What we shot today reminded me of two things: One, the banana stand in Arrested Development and two, a children's picture book about veganism. I commend Robert P. and his art crew on their work. Thanks to Glenda, our script supervisor, the creators of Blood Car avoided an potentially embarrassing error. You see, in the script, Archie purchases wheat germ with which to experiment. Well, wheat germ in our world is green, but wheat germ in reality in brown. So just before shooting the scene where wheat germ in mentioned for the first time in the film, Glenda says matter of factly, "That's not wheat germ. Wheat germ is brown." So, the script changed from that moment on and wheat germ became wheat grass. I believe others may have commented on this incongruity earlier on in shooting, but I'll credit the correction to Glenda because she seemed to initiate it at the time.

Another near miss was a line spoken by Archie the vegan: I'm a vegan. Notice anything peculiar. Well, if you're vegan, you don't say, "I'm a vegan.", you say, "I'm vegan." Like I'm Catholic or I'm Russian or I'm tall. For sparing us humiliation amongst vegans worldwide, we must thank Anna Chlumsky. It was her first of three days of shooting with us. She has enriched the Lorraine character of the script with a different dimension - less nerdy, but goofier.
She currently lives in Brooklyn, and I think I overheard her say she was part Croatian, which would make us countrymen, ahem...countrypeo-, ahem...fellow Croats.

Notes for today:

-After reading one of my earlier posts complaining about a lack of gummi bears on set, Michael G. brought me some. They were a big hit with Anna, Barrett, Glenda, and myself and we were all in agreement that the paradigm of gummi bears is a gummi made by HARIBO. Michale G. also shot some behind the scenes today, a first for the show.

-We were ready to start shooting before the Grip/Electric truck arrived this morning. The entire department had overslept except for Tom P. Luckily he had some equipment in his trans am: four c stands and some gels. We were well advised to wait.

-An AD handed me a call sheet at wrap for the first time on the show.

-If you want to eliminate seeing your breath on cold days, do not put ice in your mouth. It is an old wive's tale.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Night Exterior

At our production meeting the Saturday before shooting began, the director referred to Day 6 as punishment. Well, that pledge was delivered yesterday.

Day 6 - On the slate for today were one lengthy effects-laden action sequence and a car drag race sequence. First the action sequence, which was our daytime sequence that featured Archie chasing two agents who have stolen his blood car. Fortunately for aesthetics, part of this sequence was shot on a rather steep hill. Unfortunately for me, I had to ride my bike down this hill wielding a shiny hatchet in pursuit. Usually riding down a hill is not very difficult. You just coast down the hill, right? Right. Uh-uh. If you're trying to convey that Archie is desperately after the stolen blood car, it looks incongruous if he's coasting down a hill. However, if he's pedaling furiously on camera, it looks truthful and convincing. Well, I don't know if you've ever tried putting a bike in the lowest gear possible and pedaling downhill at full speed while holding a hatchet over your head. It's difficult. I almost took a number of spills, which is frustrating and embarrassing because you cannot give the director exactly what he wants. Apparently, enough of it worked so it wasn't a total loss. When we did it uphill, it was easy as pie.

My coldest and most treasured memory yesterday was the head to toe blood drenching I received. As I chase the agents on my bike, the blood car springs a leak and a stream of blood shoots out of the trunk like a firehose dousing Archie. If you can imagine someone sitting on the back of a truck spraying blood in your face with a garden hose at maximum pressure while you try to chase it on your bike, that is what I had to do. It was the most fun I had all day. I did underestimate the drenching. It must have looked like I emerged from a swimming pool of blood. Thomas, the boom operator who always wears a black cap with 'Higher Learning' printed on it, had this to say: "It was the funniest thing I've ever seen next to the time when my sister did a cartwheel across our living room and got her braces stuck in the carpet."

Our night exterior scene involved quite an elaborate lighting setup simply because you don't have the sun to augment your lighting needs. Scaffolding stretched at least 20 feet into the air and held a 20K(or maybe it was an 18K) at one end of the street and a couple equally bright softer lights that resembled china balls only cylindrical at the other end of the street. The great lamentation of this evening was no behind the scenes crew to capture one of our drag racing gags. I'll wait until you see the film before I reveal the legerdecamera.

The nightmarish part of this evening was I almost had to sleep in Alex's father's rental house all night. It serves as our base camp and is almost completely devoid of furniture and decoration. Mr. Orr's house was burned down some time ago and he lost nearly all of his possessions so he temporarily resides here. No offense, but it certainly isn't the coziest place to wake up in at two in the morning. I had slipped into the back bedroom to sleep before my next scene, but I slept through wrap and when I awoke, everyone was gone except the grips and electrics, who were tearing down the scaffolding.

It was a long day and we didn't cover everything we had scheduled, which is a tough reality to swallow. But tomorrow is our day off and we need it.

Monday, December 12, 2005


If Blood Car was the workaday world, this would be the last day before our weekend. Thank goodness, it is not; we will work a sixth day. If the very first civilizations were founded on moviemaking, the days of week wouldn't be names, but numbers. Day 4,560,239 of o-o(That's my infinity symbol.). I mean, wouldn't it be great if in addition to the seven wonders of the ancient world, there existed the seven wonders of the cinema? What would they look like? A zoom lens 500 feet tall made of limestone blocks in the middle of the Sahara. More realistically, what might they be? A frame of film, a c-stand, a call sheet, the sound guy, HMIs, the script. There you have some six wonders of a film set. I know there are more so feel free to add to that list.

Day 5 - If I had been paid for today, on my drive home I would have said to myself, "I just got away with murder." Two locations today, first company move of the show and it was a long one. First location was A car graveyard in Lithonia. Note the emphasis on 'A' car graveyard and not 'the' car graveyard. Drive through Lithonia and you'll see what I mean. Using a jib donated through two very generous local filmmakers, Ross S. and Lester, we shot the opening of the film, which features two teenagers 'going at it like wolverines'-verbatim from the script-in a car as voice over booms across the soundtrack. Originally, there was to be an old codger delivering a monologue, but the actor playing that part had a family emergency. We hope everything is alright.

Yes, there is nudity in this film. Do I appear naked? You'll have to see the film. I think by the end of shooting almost every single person on the crew will have appeared in the film, which might make some brows furrow, but it makes me so proud that these crew members will be able to literally see their contributions on screen. I think that's one of the most fun parts of filmmaking, particularly low-budget filmmaking. One minute you're a pa, the next you're dressed in a two piece suit and a mustache firing a blank pistol pretending you're killing sinning teenagers.

The funniest thing I heard on set today was said by Chris A. our gaffer, who on a side note saved us so much money on equipment we should give him the key to the Virginia Highlands and let him run amok. He said, "I bet German shepherds get more tail in Europe than I get here in America."

From there we moved to a gas station in Douglasville, where I rode the picture bike, a Royce Union 410 XTM series 21 speed. RU has been around since 1904 and they also make pogos. If you want to accelerate hypothermia, ride a bike around at sundown in December in shortsleeves.

One of the most important sets in the film was being dressed today. Archie's apartment doubles as his laboratory, and it is the best window into the personality of our part-hero, part spree-killer. If you remember from the first post the photos Molly our Casting Director shot of me performing good deeds, then let me attest to their greatness. I look like the greatest humanitarian in the world in these pictures. Robert P., our production designer, with Molly's help, made some huge strides on the room today. I'm thrilled and I'm considering spending the night down there.

ps. When I did the spellcheck for this post, the only suggested word for Douglasville was 'declassify'. I thought that noteworthy.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Agent Two becomes chip dust.

Day 4 - 1/3 of the show is complete. We're hitting our stride. People who show up as PAs are falling into different departments. Our process trailer work gets quicker and quicker and better and better. The funny is, well, becoming funnier.

An agent heavy day, where we the audience are actually allowed to meet two agents and learn about their relationship. Those agents, Agent One and Agent Two, are played respectively by Vince C. and Hawmi G., who flew down from NYC on his on bill to be in the film and also a former GSU-er. Unfortunately, their relationship turns sour over a difference of opinion about professionalism, and Agent One grinds up Agent Two in the blood car's fanblade trunk. For this effect, which reminded me of that scene from Tremors where Victor Wong gets it in his own grocery store, our blood team was in full effect, armed with hoses, sprayers and buckets of blood. Any fears the crew may have had about making this blood car convincing as a machine that turns human blood into fuel were wiped away by this effect. T'was extraordinary.

I'm not sure what it is about fake blood on a set that just makes the morale livelier. I suppose it's the vicariousness of moviemaking in conjunction with violence and death. You are afforded the privilege of being creative with death, of lackadaisical with blood, which are not activities available to sane people. That may be a presumptuous remark coming from someone making a film titled Blood Car. I just love to watch how gore is created from everyday household items.

And I've officially adjusted to being an actor on this film. I can take catnaps on set. My questions are answered immediately. I've demanded gummi bears for the past few days, but none has showed up. Maybe tomorrow. Usually, I'm working behind the scenes, so on this film, I must resist the gravitational pull of echoing an AD or helping lay dolly track or you name it. Mainly, I try to stay warm because for some reason only known to film productions, this film is set in the spring/summer and not in the dead of winter, which is what it feels like. My wardrobe...pants and a t-shirt...the entire film. Don't worry, the t-shirts change. All are handmade and a select few read, "Dolphins are dandy", "meat is murder in the worst degree" and "learning at the speed of you". On especially windy days, I never take my coat off until I hear the words 'camera speeds'.

Oh, and I can almost drive a manual transmission comfortably(Blood cars just run better with a manual transmission.). Hills remain the only issue. But once I nail that, I'll be a man.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Repentance & Nostalgia

Day 3 - The guilt from leaving early yesterday was so overwhelming that I opted to stay beyond my wrap to witness Blood Car's homage to Goodfellas. I don't want to divulge too much about the film, so I will leave out the context in which we honor Joe Pesci's character's killing. However, I will admit it plays much funnier in our version than in Scorsese's.

Today was our first day with agents. For those of you who haven't read the script, let me summarize. Archie develops a car than runs on blood. The government, represented by secretive, spying men in suits, discovers the invention, and they must have it - the blood car. Perhaps they've been on to Archie all along. These two agents were played by Adam S. and John G., respectively a PA and a dayplaying electric. It shouldn't surprise you that members of the crew double as extras. In film school, it's one of the many production commandments. More of necessity, really. Their costumes were purchased by our Costume Designer, Stephanie. She currently is attending graduate school at West Georgia, I think, and has a extensive background in costuming for Los Angeles. Not bad for a moneyless film, eh?

My parents served homecooked tacos for the crew today. Barrett, video assist, observed that my family seemed very wholesome. He's right, we are, though I might be the least wholesome of the bunch, which is still pretty wholesome compared to some of the libertines we have working on this crew. (sarcasm) It reminded me of the days of 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade when your parents would make a dish for the class and bring it in or join you for lunch in the cafeteria and sit with you and your friends while you ate lunch. I miss that.

It was also a very nostalgic day for some of us because we had the highest count of GSU film school graduates on set today. Let me count them...Alex(close enough), Adam, me, Max M., Goldberg, Will S., Robert P., Dan P., including several current students, Becky and Sherry. I'm sure our professors would smile with pride if they visited our set, and please consider that an open invitation GSU professors.

A few notes:

An Austell resident named Mason, 10, after seeing me covered from face to waist in blood, asked to have his picture taken with me. No problem.

Another Austell resident performed an ole fashioned ditch burning from approx. 1pm until dusk. I offer no explanation.

Today was Chris K.'s birthday. He's 24. Happy Birthday.

Friday, December 09, 2005

You know, for kids.

There were worries the camera's fall yesterday might have affected the lens or focus, but our camera tests came up negative, which in doctorspeak means good - no problems. So that leads us to Day 2...well, not quite.

Last night still on Day 1, we had an actor scheduled to work on Day 2, pull out of the project. Remember the actor I mentioned in an earlier post playing Danny, the troubled student Archie takes under his wing. Yeah, it's a sizable supporting part. To give you movie people an idea, he's number three on the call sheet. Yeah, exactly. Well, it's not unprecedented in filmmaking and there is quite a long list of student films that suddenly make their directors or gaffers their stars when an actor fails to show up. No film is immune from this, even Hollywood budgetbusters. At least they called us to say they weren't coming.

So, a late night scramble to find an available actor for the part. That leads us to Katherine. Believe it or not, she agreed to do the part and show up the next day on less than 12 hours notice. Applause. And by the way, she did pretty well.

So...Day 2 - We had make-up today. Sunny, but colder. Our DP sported a bad-ass band-aid under his eye. Unfortunately, I was wrapped early and didn't get to see some of the cooler effects, flashback shots, and Danny's dead father hanging from a shower rod. I'm told it was a life-size prosthetic. I apologize to anyone who reads this for not sticking around to watch all the exciting stuff, so as a consolation, I'll talk about the grip department.

Our key grip, Chris C., who is probably the tallest person on the set, earned his dolly stripes today on some particularly precise, slow and creepy, dolly moves. It's also a generally held belief that he's the best looking grip in Atlanta. In fact, on movies where two people named Chris are working in the grip department, he's aptly differentiated with the nickname 'good looking Chris.' I'd also like to spotlight another of our grips, Nick, who is not only an old friend of mine, but he drove up from Miami where he currently lives to work on this film. He has two nicknames: Nicky-dollars and Cracker Jack. The latter he calls himself, and as we all know, you cannot give yourself a nickname. Our Best Boy Grip is Mike G. and our other company grip is, whoa...Chris K. I have yet to hear anyone call either one 'good looking Chris', so I can only determine that the verdict is still out.

Adam, the DP, just arrived. We're roommates. He's leaving to watch dailies somewhere.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Lights of Austell

I never thought I'd quote Atlanta filmmaker, Damon Wood, but "I love filmmaking!" When I first heard him say that on the set of Jinx'd, I thought to myself, "My God, what a dork!" I understand now where that feeling originated.

Day 1 - First days on a feature are all pretty similar. You start a new job and all the confusion, excitement, uncertainty and nervousness that in an ordinary job takes weeks to purge must be squeezed out in one day. Our makeup girl didn't show up today or was late and asked not to return - I'm not sure which - so I went au natural before the camera. Carl Th. Dreyer would be proud.
Unfortunately the weather added to our case of the 'first days'. I usually don't bust things, but I'll definitely be busting out the lotion for my hands to combat the frigid temps. Most of the day was concerned with shooting a scene in which Archie picks up a hitchhiker, but has ulterior motives, namely murdering her to fuel the blood car.

We ended the day with a scene in which Archie walks home and witnesses dozens of people enjoying life without gasoline. We had some extras show up, but apparently, some thought it was an audition they were at and not the actual shooting. Alarm bells went off and a mother with her two kids asked how much it paid. She was told nothing except the pleasure of helping out an indie film. She promptly left, with her two kids.

The most dramatic thing of the day was when our DP, Adam, trying to execute a run and gun close-up of Archie's feet dodging the happy people enjoying life w/o cars, slipped on the wet asphalt of Spring St. in Austell and kissed the pavement. I don't think anyone on the crew saw it coming as plenty of crew members subbing for missing extras were riding carts and doing handstands and riding roller blades in the street for the shot. I don't like chalking these events up to bad luck because it implies helplessness, but sometimes it's all you have.

Filmmaking is no longer fun and games when your DP has a bloody face. Nor when the HD camera suffers an injury as well(a broken latch that locks the viewfinder to the camera). Despite seemingly calamitous events, everyone is prepared to work again tomorrow. For free mind you. And that includes me, because as I was driving home, I noticed that almost the entire sector of downtown Austell was aglow with lights; on trees, on buildings, on telephone poles, on store windows, on every inch of that city including a steep hillside, which spelled out, "Merry Christmas Austell".

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Alex, Archie and The Unthinkable

Alex, the director of Blood car(also the producer, editor, co-writer), and I drove to a recording studio today to read an up and coming rapper for the part of the Carjacker. His name is Mista Malt, possibly Mister Malt. Though the cold read went great, the most dramatic event of the day happened on the way home after lunching in Ikea's cafeteria.

At the corner of 10th St. and Juniper, Alex and I sat idling in the picture car, the blood car if you will, waiting for the light to turn green. Wouldn't you know, the day before principal photography is to begin, a car which I believe was a Subaru - the medallion on the grill displayed stars - SLAMMED into us from behind. Neither one of us heard it coming, nor did we screech to a halt at the light, putting the driver behind us in a precarious position. We had been sitting there for a fifteen to twenty seconds and then...BAM! Alex's phone flew to the floorboard from his ear. We sat in the car stunned until a worried white man in his early thirties approached us on the driver's side and mouthed "Are you allright?" or "I'm sorry." or something. Alex and I checked ourselves for injuries, and then exited the blood car to see if it sustained any damage.

None. Not to the blood car nor to the Subaru. This might sound melodramatic, but if that unsafe driver had been traveling ten miles faster than he was, we might not be starting shooting seven hours from now. I was quite shook up and still am as I write about it. He could have put both the director and the lead actor in the hospital due to his carelessness. Later on I worried that the blood car could have been wrecked, but c'mon, it's a blood car. If anything can take a beating and keep on traveling on our roadways, it's the blood car. Hopefully, the maiden tank of blood would be furnished by a careless, white, Subaru-drivin' man.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Camera of Blood Car

The camera once touched by THE George Lucas arrived this morning. Well, it wasn't actually touched by GL, but a camera just like it was. Let me explain the connection. We're shooting this feature film on the Sony F900 CineAlta, the HD camera that made its most famous debut on the set of Star Wars II - Attack of the Clones. Ours, to my knowledge, has not been modified by Panavision, but if anyone from Panavision is reading this and is willing to modify our lenses, we certainly will not turn you away.

Hugh, our 2nd Unit DP/Director, shot about 6 minutes of insert photography today of me in the Blood Car, which is a black two-door Honda Civic. Actually, it was just my hand on the stick shift, turning the key, etc. Since the car is not mine, I had trouble turning the key in the ignition as quickly and fluidly as Hugh demanded, which would have thought-provoking implications in the final film in regard to Archie's libido. Unfortunately, none of the shot footage was usable because of a technical mishap. Oh well, my hands needed the practice.

I also rehearsed with the young actor playing Danny, a troubled elementary school student Archie takes under his wing. His real name is John, or Jon, and he attends Soape Creek Elementary School. I was intrigued by the name and, allegedly, a librarian at the school claims its name originated with an actual creek called Soape Creek. How that creek got its name is, dare I say, Swiftian in subject. According to the librarian, back in the days when Marietta wasn't yet Marietta, a giant lived next to this same creek and one day, he was bathing and he dropped his soap in the creek. Occam's razor in effect yet again. I suppose the 'e' was added later for aesthetic reasons.

Blood Car is Days Away

My name is Mike Brune and I play Archie Andrews in the film Blood Car, an HD feature to be filmed in Atlanta, GA starting on December 8, 2005. In the first draft of the script, or maybe it was just in my imagination, my character's name was Archie Ali. I liked that last name better and, if I ever have the chance in the film to say my middle name, it will be Ali. However, I fear 'Ali' will have to be buried for now and exhumed at a later date.

I play a vegan Elementary School Teacher, of which I am neither.

The crew is composed of just about everyone I went to film school with, so it's a young crew, if being in your mid-twenties is young. I think it is. I went on a photo shoot today to have pictures taken of Archie doing good deeds. One destination was the Red Cross, where I donated blood. During my donation, I asked if I could take a photo with the woman taking my blood. Let's call her Shamika. She seemed taken off guard but agreed. Then I explained we might use the picture in a 'student film' I was making, which is an equivocation(I promised myself I would use that word in a sentence.), but sometimes an effective one. Once the word 'sign' and 'release' were uttered, she deferred to the supervisor and the photographer, Molly, and I were given an apologetic no.

Then I asked if we could take a picture of Shamika and myself and "not use it my student film", but that didn't work either. At this point, I wanted to stop giving blood.

As you might guess, I didn't and, now that I think of it, I forgot to pick out a free t-shirt which I would probably never wear.