Winter's Day, Part II

I dropped Winter's Day off at the Phoenix Film Project office today, just after four, a full two hours before the deadline. That's not half bad for me.

I'll admit it, this shoot was rushed from the start. We were scrambling for wardrobe the night before, altering Old Navy clearance items (sorry to ruin the illusion), raiding WalMart for cheap tech gear, and jumping into the strange world of weaponry. Then, the day of the shoot, it sat down to write the screenplay, moments after calling all the actors and telling them to meet at my place in an hour. Fortunately, it was an adapted screenplay, but this just emphasizes the chaos involved.

On the set it was hot, we didn't have anything to drink, and the actors are all geared up in thick black vests. That's a no-no in the PHX. We rushed, rushed, rushed for two hours, with me setting talent up in multiple locations and running back and forth to get shots as people were ready. I had a vision for what I was doing, but one of those "I have a feeling" things, not anything I could readily communicate. So, there I was, harrassing Brock after each shot, "OK, what's next? Did we get that? Remind me to get that."

There was a general feeling on discomfort for me, being that I don't typically make, or even watch, action films. I wasn't comfortable with the fake guns. We took off the orange tips for realism, but that meant we could easily be mistaken for people with real guns and an altercation, or worse, could have ensued. We were at the construction site, running around as various people came to check in on the progress of their homes (so that's what goes on at construction sites on Sunday afternoons) saying, "Don't worry about it, we're making a film." Then the security guard came we had ten minutes to finish up the last third of the film.

Well, I'm happy to announce that it did work out. We did have all the shots we needed to make this film happen. In fact, we had way too much stuff to fit in the three minute time limit. In the end, I'm actually very pleased with this film. It's very smooth, very slick, very convincing. I'll put it right up there with Intense Math and AGTC.

I'm very happy with the story. I think it's pretty cool that it's based on a solid piece of literature. Maybe we'll elevate the action genre? I'll never doubt JAG again (except maybe about that humanoid-Dinosaur sci-fi thing he's always pitching).


Gabe said...

Indeed, it came out very well. I can't wait for the "Action" contest.

Brock said...

I just wanted to make a few random comments –

1. In this movie you’ll notice we’ve got Brad and Chris (both of the actors from Intense Math) playing parts. They both do a good job, but I wanted to make note of Chris’ performance. It’s actually very intense and intimidating (even though I can’t remember if he has any lines). You get the sense that he’s just waiting for an excuse to fire his gun.
Brad and Gabe are always credited for their fine performances in Intense Math, and indeed they are fine actors, but I’m also amazed at Chris’ versatility. There’s a reason why we continually use many of the same actors like Chris, Gabe and Brad – it’s that they can change their characters and do different slants in their performances. They’re not one-range actors.

2. The cinematography and special effects in this film are actually quite impressive. Josh does a CGI infrared display on a palm pilot (the first screencap in this post) that looks really neat. I was pretty impressed with his “behind the screen” graphics in AGTC, but this trumps that I think. The shots are a natural progression too. I think the lighting in this film is very interesting to look at – especially the blown out, glowing windows and backgrounds, contrasted with the dark shadows on the character’s faces.

3. Our attention to detail rocks. I’m sorry, but I had to say it. How many people are going to realize that those are ripped-up old-navy jackets moonlighting as bulletproof vests? In addition to the refashioned vests, we've also got cheepy Walkman earplugs serving as the ear-set communication devices. Stupid little touches like that, which seem incredibly silly the night before, end up looking amazing when the movie is done.

Joshua Provost said...


1. Yes, they are all fine actors. What impresses me is their ability to not overact, they seem spot on everytime. More importantly, their patience and attention to detail on the set. They get the marks right, and they stay there until you tell them to move. That may seem like a little thing, but its huge when your trying to get things done fast and don't want mistakes to show up you won't be able to fix later.

2. Thanks on the cinematography. I don't know if it counts on this one, since most of the effort was expended in post. However, there is much dicussion on the cinematography boards that DP's should "own" the image from start to finish, not just on the shoot, and supervise at all stages of post. So, in that regard, I put in my cinematography work on this one. So far my effects have just been overlays. Wait until we write myself into a corner and I have to do a real effect!

3. Flipping the jackets inside out to get just the right look was a smart move. I can't believe good decisions like that get made in the heat of battle. I'm really not sure how any of these films get made, but they just do. Wild.


Jeremy said...

When do I get to see the finished product?

Joshua Provost said...

You dork, don't you check the outgoing links? It's the first one!

Jeremy said...

Yes, I am a dork.

I have downloaded it but I haven't watched it yet. I will post with feedback when I get a chance.

Jeremy said...

I just wrote up a nice long message containing all my likes/dislikes for this film. Unfortunately, Blogger.com decided to die on me as I tried to post it so it is lost forever in cyberspace. I just don't have the heart to type it all up again.

Joshua Provost said...

Oh, c'mon, let's hear it.

Brock said...

At least do a simple pro/con.


Gabe looks evil


Is that Brock standing outside the window in one of those frames?


I swear, those aren't Old Navy jackets.


I swear, those are Old Navy jackets ripped apart and turned inside out.

Jeremy said...

OK, I'll try my best to remember everything. I hope you guys are ready for an honest reaction. We'll start with ...


- Some of the actors (minus Gabe, Larry, and the main dude that does the accusations) just seem too young to make it believable.
- Obviously, three minutes just wasn't enough length for this story. The story seems to get a little garbled. I have no clue why Gabe drops the "whore" on Angie and then shoots her. Maybe because I don't know the original story.
- The opening voice over seems forced. I understand that was probably necessary given the timeframe you had to work with.
- The scene where Angie gets cornered doesn't give you enough perspective on where she is and the fact that she's turning this way and that. It reminded me too much of when Brock got cornered in AGTC. You're already starting to copy yourself!


- All of the actors' performances were better than average and up. There really wasn't a weak spot all around.
- Great location! It really works. It also makes you realize how important a good location is. That's three straight I've seen from you guys with absolutely perfect locations (AGTC & Intense Math).
- Nice tension building at the end when you cut between the accusation and Gabe's feet.
- There are some nice shots/editing peppered throughout.
- As has already been mentioned, the little details were very nicely done. It seemed authentic from that perspective.

In conclusion, this wasn't your best work. That can be understood given the timeframe and circumstances of the filming. Keep in mind that I still enjoyed it very much and it's far better than what most people would be able to come up with given the same situation. Now that you have some experience under your belts you need to be ready for the harsh truth. Though this was a "good" or "solid" effort, it wasn't great. You guys can do better. I've seen the potential and the potential is great.

Joshua Provost said...

Good comments, I'd agree with most of them. The age thing is coming up again and again. We need to expand into a wider variety of actors. Brad and Chris are very good, though, and they should be used whenever appropriate.

The locations are big to me, as are the little details. However, I really drop the ball when it comes to getting good performances. I'm too focused on getting a good shot (or just getting the shots at all).

Brock said...

Great points Jeremy.

Josh, I think you sell yourself short when it comes to performances. I mean, yeah, you're not an actor's director. But you don't have to be. You're clearly more of a visual director, which is fine. Performance is important, but you can learn a few tricks to make yourself a more rounded director.
My directing instructor once said that he was never good at directing performances until later on in his career. It's just something you have to become adjusted to.

Brock said...

Second note: most of the performances in our films are a cut above other local indie films anyway.