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Thread: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

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    Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"



    Matthew S. Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol. 1

    Hello everyone, I am a young filmmaker and this summer I will be directing my 3rd feature film. This will be the 4th total feature film I've worked on under the banner of my movie production company Red Flag Movie Productions©.s This will be the first time I've directed a feature I did not write the script for. My last feature film "Death Suspects a Murder" which I made my senior year of college I wrote, produced and edited so I was honored to be asked by Michael Montgomery who is a published novelist in his own right to write this story.

    "An Affair of the Youth" is about a young woman named Allie with a bright future who one night decides to go to a wild party with her rebellious friend Violet. Things quickly spiral out of control and soon Allie finds herself in a life or death situation.

    I am no stranger to writing dark material but this is by far the darkest story I've ever directed so I am excited to jump right in and tackle this material. We've already finished casting and this Sunday will be our script reading. Shooting will begin in Los Angeles and Orange County at the end of June. Over the next few months I will be posting about the production of this film and posting updates. If you want to follow things as they happen you can follow me on instagram at @robinsonishyde and then on twitter @radiofinalcut

    I encourage people to ask questions about my process and certain events. I plan to be very honest and talk about both the high and low points of pre-production and production once shooting begins. Let's get things started!

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Is there anything particular about darker subject matter that makes it more attractive to you? Personally I love writing about emotion and the way it affects people, especially when it delves into areas that aren't ventured into often. For some reason I really like making people cry and pull at every part of the emotional spectrum. That's from a writer's perspective, though. As a director, what process do you employ to take something that's dark and weighty on paper and bring it to life without sacrificing the writer's visualization?

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Quote Originally Posted by Coxatron View Post
    Is there anything particular about darker subject matter that makes it more attractive to you? Personally I love writing about emotion and the way it affects people, especially when it delves into areas that aren't ventured into often. For some reason I really like making people cry and pull at every part of the emotional spectrum. That's from a writer's perspective, though. As a director, what process do you employ to take something that's dark and weighty on paper and bring it to life without sacrificing the writer's visualization?

    Nash sucks dick
    I think after years of writing so many comedy sketches and working on so many comedy sketches (I've worked on over 80 since 2007) that I really just want to get away from making everything funny. Life is funny but sometimes it's not. I think sometimes in order for emotions to make an impact the audience has to feel it in their gut, it has to be something that they fear or something that they'd never want to have happen to them or someone they know. I understand liking to make people cry, I think I do love making people laugh and this script does have some humor in it but I think above that I want people to think about human nature and how it fits into society. I always find it interesting that individuals tend to be a certain way alone and then another way in the lens of society. Everyone has duality, and this script definitely deals with duality, but also false conceptions of ones self based on how they THINK they should feel.

    Not to get too deep but in this film there is a major character who jumps from relationship to relationship, she's desperate for love but she doesn't even know what love is. She's mistaking her craving to be desired and her own need to be the center of attention that she interprets attention of any kind as love no matter how damaging or unrealistic it is. And it's destroying her and I think all of us go through a stage like that in our lives where we want to be accepted so badly we'd do anything to get that attention and to be the "important one" in the room.

    In taking someone else's work on screen, I think it varies based on the project and the writer's skill. If a script isn't that good I feel I have to be more domineering as the director but in a script as strong as this one it's more about getting in sync with the writer's vision and doing the best I can to bring that to life. Thankfully there needed to be little negotiation and creative liberty taken as me and the writer were pretty much on the same page with most things. But when something is written to be dark you have to make sure the audience watching the film feels it, when it's meant to be funny you've got to do the words justice. I think it's harder to direct comedy though, because humor is so personal. Drama might require more attention to certain details but I feel if the words are strong enough it will be impactful no matter what.

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Scheduling is by far one of the hardest things to pull off when making an indie film. So many locations, actors, crew members and the sort that you have to wrangle and then work around their schedule. This makes you have to scramble to get things done, quickly and efficiently without pissing off or burning out your production. Since everything has to be done by the end of July this made making this schedule particularly difficult. On my last film we had months to shoot so I was able to spread it out over 21 days of shooting. Now we have only one and a half months. So basically we are shooting 110 pages in 10 days with one safety day for reshoots/pick ups. Not a lot of room for error. Here is what my schedule looks like currently. This is a simplistic form, call sheets will be made by production coordinator later.













    So far everyone has said yes. Still waiting to hear back from a few key actors. Most importantly one of the directors of photography I want to get can do this schedule so that's great and so can my trusted Assistant Director.

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Let me know if you ever want to direct a comedy television series that revolves around people working in a grocery store. Got scripts for dayyyysss

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Quote Originally Posted by Coxatron View Post
    Let me know if you ever want to direct a comedy television series that revolves around people working in a grocery store. Got scripts for dayyyysss

    Nash sucks dick
    I'd love to! I still think the world didn't give enough of a chance to "10 items or less"

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Honestly I thought that show was terrible. They tried to take the office and film it in a grocery store and I thought they failed miserably. Leslie or whatever that guys name was ended up as such an obvious Michael Scott clone that it was unbearable. Parks and Recs did the same thing in S1 but were smart enough to let Amy poehler be as amazing as she can be.

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Quote Originally Posted by Coxatron View Post
    Honestly I thought that show was terrible. They tried to take the office and film it in a grocery store and I thought they failed miserably. Leslie or whatever that guys name was ended up as such an obvious Michael Scott clone that it was unbearable. Parks and Recs did the same thing in S1 but were smart enough to let Amy poehler be as amazing as she can be.

    Nash sucks dick
    Actually I just watched a few episodes on Netflix after reading your criticism and you are absolutely right. Darth Vader Night Shift Manager was far better.

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    I'd invest in that Grocery show in a heartbeat... There's a hell of a lot insanity I've experienced... I've always thought it would make a great show.

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    Script Reading Day

    I've only taken part in a few script readings before, but I know how important they are. They're like lax rehearsals where the actors get to all meet each other and start getting into your characters. Plus the director and or writer can also get a feel for which lines maybe don't quite work and which scenes should be taken out. All of that happened during the script reading this past Sunday. We came in and all got to talk a bit. My director of photography came and I talked with her, she's a graduate of the AFI film school of cinematography and she really knows her stuff. We're looking to give the aesthetics of this film a "Chungking Express" feel. I want the film natural despite it's cinematic nature and I think she can deliver with that. Right now we'd like to rent a RED Scarlet but most likely it will be the Canon C100

    The script reading went very well and we ended up deciding to take out an entire scene that with the rewrite just didn't flow nicely and slowed things down. This actually takes away an entire day of shooting which I'm happy about because it allows things to move quickly and means our movie will cost substantially less. Here are some pictures from the script reading:











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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    There's so much potential for the idea. Every fucking day I go to work is a source of new material. I already have an arc that spans five seasons using the standard 30 minute comedy format. I just don't have the means of actually pitching it.

    With 10 Items Or Less, either the writer's didn't actually work in a grocery and had to try and convey what it's like or the director failed miserably at bringing the pages to life. There wasn't a single episode that mirrored what it's actually like.

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Another thing I thought would make a funny tv show is one that delved into the world of teachers. They talk about some hilarious stuff in the break room.

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Agreed. It can probably be said for any occupational situation though. The more interaction between people the more opportunities for stories. Which is why something like a grocery store is just begging for a good representation. Between coworkers and customer interaction it's too damn perfect.

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Whew! What a day! Today was one of those "get it all organized" days where I was on the phone or at a meeting all day. First I spoke with the make up artist and got everything cleared up with her. Then I had to talk with the costume designer (who is my brother), then two actors who had questions about the script and their motivations. Then I had to get some storyboarding done before meeting up with Dawn the director of photography. Dawn knows her stuff and wants us desperately to shoot on a RED Scarlet a pretty nice camera that has 2k and 4k shooting capabilities. 4k is impractical both because of the memory size of an hour of footage and for the fact that most screens can't even properly showcase 4k. We can't at the moment afford to rent a RED Scarlet (which at the best price would cost us $200 per day) we're knocking on doors to find a better deal, but no promises. I understand the DP's method of thinking and she's absolutely right that we need to push our visual tech to the limits. But it might not be practical on our budget. I'm already shelling out around $3,000 for this film out of my own pocket. I might get a little help from a family member with an extra $1-2k. But we need another investor or two. Right now we've got two people who might help, so I'm waiting to hear back. My producer is getting nervous, and I understand the emotion. Problem is there is nothing this producer can do except find an investor so stressing me out doesn't really help the problem. I don't need to be reminded of how deep we're in if we don't get investors. I know, and shooting begins one week from today.

    I am a praying man, and someone who takes his relationship with God pretty seriously. (Despite my current avatar of a "bouncy" Elsa may suggest) and I have faith that God will bring the right people to me. But it's still a stressful stretch of time not knowing what the financial situation will be like. I can hear my producer getting frustrated with me, it's in the tone of speaking. I get it. But there is nothing we can do right now except make phone calls, send emails and pray for the best.

    Below is a picture from a page of my storyboards. For some of the more complex stuff I'm hiring a storyboard artist who is going to "upgrade" my visuals so that people can understand them better when they are more detailed shots. But for the most part this should do. I need to get Dawn a detailed floor plan and a shot list by Sunday night. Thankfully my Production Manager/Producer is working on a call sheet to help take some of the workload off me. Losing our production coordinator who had to take a job up in San Francisco was a big blow. He was going to work for basically free, was passionate, understood the position and was going to handle the "boring" stuff like contracts, locations, call sheets etc. Now that he's gone it's fallen on me and the other producers.

    It's tough having this job. Even when I'm not the producer I feel everyone looks to me to solve their problems and have all the answers. It's both a blessing and a curse as it undoubtedly makes me feel important but it also causes a good deal of stress and puts me into a fever rush of over thinking. I'm not complaining though, it is what it is. I have to be a leader and as much as I avoid it sometimes I've come to realize I am one. People trust me, they rely on me and that's not an easy thing to live up to at times but it's better than the alternative.




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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Looks like you're doing pretty well Matt.


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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"






    Call Sheet for first day of shooting. Completed by the UPM

    So this Sunday it's time to put the turkey in the oven. I don't know if that's a phrase but I'm making it one now. Sunday we shoot out first scene. I always like shooting the first scene of the movie first if possible because I feel it sets the tone. We are taking full advantage of our location since we only have 9 to 11 days to shoot we have to shoot by location not necessarily by scene or some sort of other order. So all the scenes that will feature this apartment have to be shot on Sunday.

    I chose Sunday because I feel Murphy's Law will be in affect as we prepare for the shoot and something is bound to happen that we need to correct. So I'd like to have Saturday and maybe even Friday to correct that and get ready. Probably going to take a half day at work on Friday or the whole day off. Not sure yet. Dawn, the director of photography wants to see the location before we shoot so I'm trying to square that away. She's not a fan of the white walls in terms of an aesthetic to shoot with. I agree with her but I can't paint the walls a different color. If we had a bigger budget and less restrictive locations I'd be down to spend a good 4-5 hours repainting walls then repainting them to their original color. But we don't. So thanks to a friend's advice we're going to use contact paper. It can be a tad pricey in large amounts but still cheaper than buying buckets of paint and less time consuming.So were going to find some contact paper and use that color to make our walls more aesthetically pleasing.

    My brother is getting wardrobe squared away this week. He's trained in costume design and fashion marketing so he was the perfect choice for the job. He's going to be going out tomorrow and possibly Friday/Saturday to get the clothes the actors need. It's going to cost on the most conservative of estimates $200 to get the costumes needed for this one day of shooting. I can't afford anything higher than $350. Knowing my brother he will be able to frugally get what we need. What jacks up the price is needing doubles of particular outfits. If they get messed up we've gotta have another one ready to go. But at least once you buy an outfit, it's been bought and you don't have to keep buying it. Still, there goes my tax return money.

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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Whew! So it's been so busy that I haven't had time to update anyone on the literal 3 days of shooting I had! It's time to catch everyone up, plus I have some screenshots to exclusively show you from production.

    Day One

    Day One of shooting I was a massive stress ball. It was a Sunday shoot and I had spent Saturday driving around getting some last minute items we needed. My producer and I would've been able to pick them all up at one place but unfortunately that place on the Friday before had made a policy that they'd no longer be open on Saturdays. Talk about a wrench in the plans. Murphy's Law was only just beginning to kick our collective butts. I spent a good four hours driving through the sprawl that is Los Angeles to get; tape, painter's tape, gaffer's tape, lights, paper lanterns and a prop revolver. This sent me to Inglewood, Culver City, Hollywood and then Chinatown. I probably spent a good $35 in gas just on that day alone. Then when I get home I'm tired but still have to double check equipment and make sure everyone had my shot list and storyboards.


    Chinatown - where I got my paper lanterns. My director of photography needed them for lighting purposes.


    Prop Gun $170, Also bought fake shells for $25

    So the first day of shooting begins and man was it a rough day. I woke up and decided to go to my church's 7am service as my call time was much later in the day, but I still went straight to the set from church and got there a little before 11am. Murphy's law just killed us the entire time though. The concentrate coffee we were going to get was sold out, one of our two LED lights was missing it's power plug prong. The list goes on and on. Plus one thing that I kind of knew would happen but still slowed us down as the crew gaining it's chemistry together. Learning our ticks and what we all wanted and needed to do. That caused us to start 30 minutes late.

    Thankfully everyone despite still gaining our footing was on their A game. Makeup was rolling like a well oiled machine, my brother had outfits lined up for wardrobe and approved all final attire and measurements. Everything went smoothly in many ways but we still started shooting far too late and we scheduled it at an odd time where we ran out of time and had to only shoot interior scenes because the outside scenes had to be during the day. So out of the 8 pages we were supposed to shoot we only shot 4. Not the best day overall, and did I mention that we went two hours overtime? YIKES! Thankfully I had a lot of capital stored up with people. But I know I can't let something like that happen again. Not to mention I was shooting at my sister's place so she was quietly relegated to her room where she had to wait there for 2 extra hours because I didn't have my set organized enough. And this was with a complete shot list and storyboard. I should have chosen an easy scene, maybe something that was no more than 2 pages. Here are some production stills and behind the scenes photos:





























    Day 2

    So we had about 6 days to prepare for the 2nd shooting day, and boy did we need every day. We basically retooled and moved our production manager to Assistant Director because of her knowledge of the schedule and our AD to script supervisor 2nd AD. It most likely won't show up in the credits, but that's okay it just made a big difference. Also our assistant camera and director of photography began to become more cohesive which helped a bunch.

    Day 2 and 3 were mega stressful because they were apart of my family reunion weekend, and not all of my family was thrilled about me spending quality time shooting a movie instead of spending it with them. Something I totally understand. Basically I had to promise I'd never let it happen again. So I was dealing with gray hair level stress already with a family on my heels, but then my producer was also getting on me about a lot of things too. So my heart was pounding as I got onto set. This day HAD to go well.

    Thing went a lot smoother, one thing that slowed us down on day one was having an over abundance of equipment that we didn't use. By today we had a better idea of what we actually needed to bring onto set which made set up time less. So we got things started. I could tell before the first shot that our sound guy was not too confident we could finish on time. (Not that I blame him) We had ten pages planned on a six hour day. That's a ton! Most movies never do more than 2-4 pages a day.

    Anyway before the shoot the director of photography and I went to the location and scouted it out. That helped a lot too, it was over an hour drive for what amounted to 20 minutes of looking around and blocking but it paid itself back on set. We didn't have to discuss many shots, we knew what we wanted and how we wanted it. Shooting began on time and we finished 30 whole minutes ahead of schedule and that was with a pretty nice lunch break. Though I got gorged on the freakin' pizza places. We shot this scene in Malibu so I bought Malibu pizza which ended up being $60 for 3 large pizzas, and they weren't out of this world good in any sense of the word. Thankfully mixed with the snacks and bottled water that was enough to satiate people. Since most people are basically working for free (I'm paying most in gas and covering expenses) the food has to be good.

    But everything went okay, we got great shots and great acting performances. I didn't take too many takes with the actors. From experience I've learned that once the actor's lines and blocking is down pat you really only get 3-5 good takes out of them, after that you almost never get anything better and you're just exhausting them. I'm blessed with an outstanding cast that did some great work all throughout the takes.

    My bad luck came after shooting however. Apparently I had gotten a flat on my tire because I didn't get more than fifty feet before I realized I had one. I had to park my car and jack it up and wouldn't you know it? My spare had a flat as well. So pumping my spare full of air I managed to find a safe parking lot for my car. I got a ride home from my producer and we dropped off the equipment at the location for day 3. My family was not happy with me because I missed some events, but they understood with my car problem there was no getting around it. At least my car busted it's tire AFTER the shoot not before.



    My hands after changing my car fiasco.







    TV with chroma key green tape. Which will allow us in post production to put a video on the TV without having to worry about reflections or mixed frame rates that cause those awful picture lines. You see in just about every student film.






    There is a significant height difference between these two actresses and so we have to be careful with wider shots that have both of them standing, so the camera usually has to take a low angle and play up the height difference or we have to be creative in their positioning.











    Day 3

    So Day 2 was great on set, off set I got kicked in the teeth by Murphy's law and good ol' Murphy wasn't done with me. I was strongly considering renting a car to get me to set. The problem? Even though I've completed all the paperwork and gone to the DMV in California they mail you your new driver's license. My old out of state license expired and unlike Ohio you don't get to grab your new license like a happy meal and drive off into the sunset. So I couldn't rent a car. Thankfully my sister let me borrow her car, I just had to fill it up and change the oil. Which on a Toyota is super simple. Anyway enough car talk right?

    I get to set and am in a rush since everyone has already been there (minus the actors who have later call times) for about an hour. Thankfully we had dropped off the equipment the night before so there was little to set up, we just had to discuss shots. We get everything set up and start on time. Shooting goes well, my awesome director of photography uses only natural lighting for this day and it looks incredible! I am straight up geeking out! Not to mention we were THREE people short that day on crew. We didn't have our script supervisor (he had to move and let me know about it weeks in advance it's fine) my producer couldn't get out of work so he wasn't there and neither was our scheduled Production Assistant. But we still finished 45 minutes ahead of schedule that was a good day. A really good day!

    This 4th of July weekend we're taking a week off, which is much needed, I'm exhausted. My cast and crew is happy but I needed the rest. Plus because our investors haven't written our checks yet I'm in a tight pickle and am beginning to worry they won't sign the dotted line and give us cash. Even if it was just $500 it would help astronomically. Everyone cashed in their chips this week and it's leaving me broke. I'm basically going to have $500 to spend for four days of shooting. We lost a crucial location and ended up having to pay $200 for a location. That's a more than fair price, but since I'm paying everything out of pocket that puts me in a tight spot and I have to help reserve a hotel room for a 6 days for my associate producer, even at a roach motel I'm going to need some money help. So that's my new thing to stress about, got the set running well now I need the cash.



















    By the way if anyone is interested in investing in the movie we've got some pretty lucrative deals so message me if you are.

  18. #18
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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Dang, thats a busy few days.
    Last edited by ETE; 07-15-2014 at 09:46 AM.


  19. #19
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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    A Texan in a Strange Land...

    I'm not sure if Matt wanted to reveal this in his actual film journal for the final week of shooting, or if he wanted me to do it... But fuck it, I'm hijacking his journal. Even though you could've just read the call sheets listed above and wonder... Why is Shaun's name listed as associate producer?

    Yes, it isn't just a paper credit. I'm here in-slightly-overcast Los Angeles and will be on set for the final three days of filming. Even though I flew out on the wrong day, and caused a wacky series of hilarious hi-jinks, I'm here! The weather is beautiful. Sitting here in the open air cabana/organic cafe/gift shop, killing some time and doing some writing.

    Personally, I've waited so many years for this to be on a real production set and working on a real movie. I've gotten a chance to do a thing or two, here and there from my home in Texas, but it's not the same by a long shot. I'm excited. I'm ready to work. I'm green as hell and have never worked on a movie in this capacity before, but fuck it... I'm living the dream.

    I can't wait...

    But yeah... flew in on the wrong day. Since the shooting schedule got changed, I probably should've changed the day I flew in (that being today). But I didn't... I literally get off the plane (while having no signal to call or text from Houston to LA) and Matt's texts me "Wait I thought you get in on Tuesday. You get in today at noon?" Not the best thing to see as you're stepping off the plane in a strange land totally unlike your home. I really should've rescheduled my flight lol... No big deal though. Murphy's Law in action. Just a funny story to tell when we're millionaire filmmakers and writers accepting important awards.

    I tend to ramble, so I'm gonna cut it off here. If Matt lets me, I'll tell a few stories on here from a newbie's perspective. Peace.

  20. #20
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    Re: Matthew Robinson Filmmaking Journal Vol.1 - "An Affair of the Youth"

    Day 4

    Day 4 was such a mixed bag. On the one hand the footage looks great, the actors didn't have to be on set for a long time and it all went pretty smoothly once we began rolling. It was an odd night we were shooting in Inglewood and after having a previous location a food mart cancel on us we had to improvise and find a new location. My producers weren't having much luck but I was thankfully able to find a burrito joint that was willing to let us shoot there the hour before it closed. I went to guy and offered a small amount of money $100 for the hour. He said that he'd let me shoot there for free, we shook on it and that was that.

    Well the day comes and I finally get one friend whose very busy with a MTV show he works on to come help out and he was a big help to have around and I found a new 1st AC in the wake of losing our director of photography. Our previous 1st AC was promoted to Director of Photography and a new hire was brought in to be 1st AC. The new camera department got along swimmingly and that helped things move faster. We brought on a key grip, for those unacquainted a key grip is basically in charge of lighting. This guy seemed nice, fit the bill and was seemingly a hard worker. But halfway through shooting he just got up and walked away. At first I thought he just had to step outside for a moment (it got very hot on set) but turns out he was offended by the language in the film. I guess I kind of understand, but to just get up and leave like that was pretty unprofessional, not to mention I had sent him the script before he showed up to set so there was little excuse to as why he didn't know the language existed. I mean we were shooting the third freakin' page of the movie here.

    To make matters a little bit harder I got totally raked by the store owner. Though he had agreed to do it for free he now wanted money because we were plugging in lights. Now these were two lights that certainly didn't use up more electricity than most lamps. Certainly not enough that he could justify his original asking price of $400-500. There was no way I was paying that, but at the same time he kind of had me by the balls because we had started to get ready for shooting and I didn't have time to reschedule. So I eventually talked him down to $200, money I truly couldn't afford to give him, but what choice did I have? So in short I bit the bullet and at least he closed down the restaurant for the last hour so we had peace and quiet. We got done pretty quickly, but that just put a sour taste in my mouth. Oh but little did I know that Days 5 & 6 would be a far greater test of my will power and my actor's patience with me.









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