Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Guest blog by director Mike Diller

 My name is Mike Diller, Senior Producer at Crewstone  Technologies/Cynergy Media Group. 


 What an experience. Just wrapped one of the coolest shoots I’ve ever worked on. Great story from a great writer, Martin Bartloff. We produced a book trailer for his book, Torn from Normal. We approached the project very ambitiously. This isn’t your typical book trailer. Our goal was to make it look like a movie trailer. We shot 1080/24p HD video, from a script that I adapted from excerpts of Martin’s novel. Collaborating with Martin was awesome. He has such a visual way of story telling, and working with him to adapt his story was so easy to see. But pulling all the gear together to bring it to life in a way that would live up to Martin’s vision was a challenge. We brought lights and dolly’s and hostess trays. We brought on an awesome director of Photographer, Phil Wright, who really can get the most out of the Panasonic Varicam 3700 that we would shoot with.
First day, we shot the cemetery scenes. The first was the funeral of Andy’s father. Andy is the main character in Martin’s book and his life is beset with tragedies from an early age. He looses his father tragically when he is just 11 years old.  
We used a young local actor, Blake Muller, to portray the 11-year-old Andy. He was really good working with another talented local actress Brenda McCullen, (Right photo) portraying Andy’s mom. We also were honored to have Joseph Filipowski, fresh from his work in Lincoln, play the part of the Reverend, officiating the ceremony. The scene looked gorgeous. It was a beautiful spring day, and Phil’s photography really captured the
scene.
Second scene of the day was the scene in which 17 year old Andy, completely brought to life by Winston Walters, (Left photo, who is currently in preproduction, prepping for season 2 of Mudcats, now on NatGeo) lies in the cemetery contemplating his existence. We used a forklift to get this shot. The final shot of the day, which we shot at dusk, had Andy lying in the grass as his friends Marvin and Danny drive up, hoping to reach him in time. Really good first day!! (Photo below of Winston Walters and art designer Georgia Menides)
Day 2 – Chaos.
Early call time. 5:30am. Actors late. City street supposed to be closed. It’s not. We’re shooting a rainy scene, and the sun is coming up. Gotta improvise, quick. We move, to a shady section of secluded roadway a couple of blocks from where we were originally supposed to shoot. Lots of tall trees on either side of the road, which would keep the sunlight off of the set for as long as possible. First actor shows, we begin shooting. Using a generator, a water pump and 100 feet of hose, we are making this lovely spring morning look like a cold torrential rainstorm. It works great, shooting the close-up of Andy. But as the rest of the actors show and we try to shoot the part of the scene where Andy meets Sarah along with her friends, as they offer him a ride in their minivan, we are fighting the sun. Moving constantly trying to find shade. And it seems like once we find some, by the time we set up and start shooting, more sun. We get what we can and plan to shoot inserts, at a later time. But for now, we have to move on. Lots still to shoot, to make our day.
Rest of the day included a scene outside of Martin’s house, the bowling scene and the truck yard scene. After that, we took a small crew to the Virginia Train Museum in Portsmouth, where they have a vintage train. Not exactly Amtrak, but the owers where very gracious to let us shoot there. Long long day. I went home after that, and started to work on planning for Sunday. I fell asleep about 8pm. Woke up at six the next morning, and considered going to play in my 8am soccer game. Then I fell back asleep, to get as much sleep as I could before another challenging shooting day.

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