I went back to the old warehouse by my home, this time with three other people. I had to shoot a short film here, with actors. “Left for Dead”, a short I shot alone here, just was not good enough. It was visual, but it held little story or substance. So we made a short at the rotten and creepy building.
Before you read further, understand that this film had a budget of $0.00. I shot this yesterday and edited it this morning.
Joe, Adam and Anthony met me at a shopping plaza about half a mile from the warehouse. We grabbed a coffee and I let them to the location. I traveled alone, my car was filled to the ceiling with equipment.
I had packed my Sony HDV HVR-Z1U with the Letus35 Extreme, a bunch of film lenses, my dolly system, my jib, wireless mics, batteries, a Vinten tripod, a generator, a light kit, a fog machine, one pound of Boars Head roast beef and some chicken guts.
As our two cars entered the dirt road that led to the decaying structure, I looked in the rearview to be sure no one was following us. This place is not posted, but it was dangerous. I was worried that one of use would leave with a flat tire. We ran over enough boards with rusted nails and broken glass to puncture a tire on a front-end loader.
This was my first “actor” film and I looked forward to working with director and filmmaker, Joe Francazio. Had had done this sort of thing before, but never with me as the DP.
I had known Adam for years. He was my utility at Boston Celtics TV network games and he too had made a few student films. Adam brought along his friend and actor Anthony. This was my first time meeting the guy. I liked Anthony immediately. Professional, dry witted and perfect for the part was had casted for him
We entered the warehouse with just an outline I had written up the night before. I was drinking moonshine I got from a guy I hardly knew and this white lightning seemed to open my mind. We had no script. I was confident that Joe would be able to put it all together on site, while I directed the visual aspects of the film.
We moved around the warehouse using ECM-77b lav mics with wireless belt packs for sound. The entire film was shot using the same 28mm f2.8 $30 Korean lens I used to shoot “Left for Dead”. I even left a polarizer filter on the entire time to keep it dark. Some of the shots were bumped to 9dB gain, but the grainy blacks added to the atmosphere of the picture.
We used no lights. Every shot in the short was available light. I really liked using the beams of sunlight to backlight the actors. I did chase the sun in the final shot at the end and wished that I had fired up the genny and back lit Anthony while he laid dead on the ground. The beam of sun I was using moved to damn quick as we set up dolly track.
The fog machine died yet again and we went without the desired smoky beams-of-light atmosphere. The generator stayed off almost the entire time.
This shoot was rushed. I had to be at a job in a few hours to shoot behind the scenes of a hockey tournament held in Boston. Joe was excellent and kept the shoot on track and continued to feed the actors dialogue. Joe knew exactly what was needed and we only shot what we planned on using in the short.
The shoot lasted just 3.5 hours. I edited the film in just under 2 hours. I was a breeze to edit because everything was right in front of me. All shots were done in chronological order, with the exception of two and in many scenes we nailed the take after two or three attempts. All audio you hear in the film was also recorded inside the warehouse. I had everything I needed in my edit browser ready to be dragged to the timeline.
At the end of the film, Joe was the creature and was pulling that $10 a pound roast beef from inside Anthony’s jacket. Joe can’t stand roast beef, even if it was expensive Boars Head Brand!
One strange thing that happened outside the warehouse was someone or something got into Joe’s car and went though his stuff. Nothing was stolen and nobody saw anything. This event could not be explained.
A few bricks fell and nearly took out one of the actors and once Anthony was killed off, he busied himself by trying to add to the graffito-tag using old rusted stray paint cans.
One shot that I wished I could have gotten was the lone lit and burning cigarette covered with blood left in the center of a room in the warehouse. Adam would have stumbled upon this and picked it up calling for Anthony. The reason we could not get this shot was because Anthony had smoked his last butt and the rest of us were non-smokers.
I hope to put up many more of these projects with the help of Joe Francazio and soon, creative writer and actor, Chris Nicini. I am sure I will also work again with Adam and Anthony.
Edited with Final Cut Pro and color corrected with “color corrector 3-way” filter. No vignette or color grading done with this short (using Magic Bullet Looks) because I ran out of time to meet my deadline.
Music credit: Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts II - Tracks 32 and 36
More info on my webpage tomguilmette.com Joe took a few production still I will include in a Blog Entry on my site.