Sunday, February 5, 2012

Danny What have you been doing??

Quite a few things!!!

      If you haven't noticed I have not posted in about a month now. This last month has been quite a bit crazy for me. Disney is going strong with their movie WRECK IT RALPH. Which I just say it's teaser... AMAZING. I definitely look forward for all of you seeing it. The animation is top notch and this film will look amazing. On the side I also got to get my hands on the Rapunzel and Flynn rig and do a dialogue test with them. 

but for now for the real reason that I've been so busy...

     In November/December I jumped on board a project my friend Ted Hayden was thinking about, it was a live-action short film. (In our business we say LIVE action or Animated film as to not confuse the two)

      In this post I'll share with you the madness, sweat, and insight I had being an animator in a live action production.

     NOVEMBER: Ted Hayden,

     he's a guy I met in college, he moved out here to LA a little while before me and since then has worked on sets and done a handfull of short films of which a few he has earned awards for in festivals and awards.
     Ted asked me to help him on his next short, he wants to focus on being a DP (cinematographer) and doesn't want to worry about anything else. which is where I come in, he wants me to direct. "What do I have to do?" Ted says to come up with a story and help out with shots and design. "OH, story board the film!!??"  ted says.. um yes. Story board. Like how the Coen Brother's do it...

     (this was my first animation reference. Story boards are a huge huge part of animated films as well for animators when they do them in thumbnail form. Storyboarding is doing many drawings of your film in it's entirety from concept to individual shots. A lot of Live action isn't done with a lot of story boards)

     DECEMBER: I draw out the film and we meet at least once a week to discuss things I really have never dealt with before. Here is an example of a miss communication.
-'Budget' ted says
"What the hell do you mean budget? Are you hungry? I could spot you for lunch..."
-"No haha, I mean how much money can you throw down on this film??"

     You see... being an animator, all I need is a pencil and some animation paper, and if im poor at the time, then just blank sheets of paper. I dont really have to spend more than $40 but here we are talking about props, renting out lights and equipment, food for people, gas to drive out to location, money money money....

     And the most obvious one that hit me hard, we have to pay to feed people and reimburse them for any expenses they make while working with us...

     WTF! I yelled.. and when Ted added up and started trying to list all the things we were going to need to do and get, he started going bald and dropped to the corner in the fetal position... Then he said we need a production manager! Enter SUNDAY WANG.. We could of not done this short with out him. He was amazing. I would say something like, 'I need our bad guy to wear this that and this, I need wine glasses and a fully dressed diner table for this scene and by the way, we need to find more drivers to carry the equipment tomorrow. OH AND did you find the location for the final sequence of the movie??"

-"yes, i got it, don't worry about it."

Sunday was also our Stunt double...
     Thats all he would say. Sunday was a BOSS. He's very good at what he does (which is that he wants to produce)  He really helped smooth out the production in this short. It was still crazy for me even with Sunday handling a lot of the stressful things. Such as when I had to decide camera shots and what color should our heros jacket should be and when Sunday would ask, 'what hair style do you want the actor to have... My responce was: askdhalsdkjhfldaskj !  shit i don't know, um.. as long as it's not dreadlocks??  but I had to choose because as director you have to decide every little detail or at least give the OK on it.
     In animation it's much easier to make decisions, all I have to do is draw and color with pencils and I'm done. So from time to time when I couldn't talk camera equipment language, I would draw something  and tell Ted- use what ever lens gets you THIS SHOT/ or make sure you get the lighting that looks like THIS...  It really did feel like two people speaking two different languages at some points during this process..

     JANUARY: We did our location scouts, we got out actors, we have our equipment ($40,000 worth of equipment if we broke it or lost it all...) and everything else we might need... time to start shooting..

     OUR FIRST MISTAKE and many other difficulties...

    (thinking we could EASILY finish shooting over 2 weekends..) Which we did finish but we should of done it over 4 weekends! It was really cool working with Ted and the cameras, because you can immediately play back something you shot on film and see if it was right or not. And if it was right, then
that was it! 10 seconds of film done! (in animation this would take weeks, so i was very pleased)

      BUT... When preparing a shot, I would be very eager and say, 'ok, so this one is easy! Lets do it real quick to move on!" So I would run to the location where the camera was suppose to be and start directing ted where to point and what to capture with his camera. Little did I know he was still back by the car messing with his camera.."TEEEDDD, what are you doing, come over here lets shoot!"
-I'm getting the FILTERS ready and setting up! these things TAKE TIME!
-Fuck! How much longer??
-Just HOLD ON.. so then after 10 long minutes he would set up his sticks (tripod) and set the camera where it was suppose to go...
-Ok ted ready? Ok lets do this!
-WAIT, im not ready.. im setting my marks and focusing...

     By this point I think regrettably punched a cactus or something... In animation I am use to just diving right in and drawing at a moments notice and start working on a shot.. In Live action it takes an awfully painstakingly long time to prepare for a shot, EVERY DIFFERENT SHOT! But I learned and got use to it.
    I also got use to 16 hour work days and being very tired all the time...

     All in all there was many little things like that that would pop up once in a while. there was a lot of improvising when a reflection of the sun glasses prevented us from getting a close up shot of our hero because our reflections would be in the shot.. that was frustrating. There was this one take that took us 4-5 hours to take and we did it 30 times.. that was a hard day. But we had an amazing crew, Ted did a great job realizing all my story boards and my vision and solving ways to do my impossible camera shots. (even doing a dangerous hanging out the trunk while driving 50 MPH with only a rope holding him in place..)

     We are still editing the film as I type this post and probably will not be done until another 3 weeks. I'm excited to see the film finally start to come together. It was a huge learning curve to deal with lighting a scene and figuring out what the hell was a kino and a flag.. Why do we need sand bags, the pain of being your own grips, and also learning to hate the words,'Don't worry about it, we'll put it in the budget.!'

  I will keep you updated on the progress of this film because we will eventually send it to festivals and try very hard to make it look like a very well done film. Wish us luck!!!!