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That’s A Wrap!

14 Oct

We’ve wrapped principal photography! It’s been a been quite a hectic week for everyone, but the shoot went very smoothly. Rain tried to delay us and wind threatened our equipment, but the entire cast and crew remained undeterred and we even finished a four hours ahead of schedule.

Having reviewed the footage, I can honestly say how thrilled I am with both the visual content and the acting; those of you eagerly anticipating a DVD will definitely be impressed.

Moving forward, we’re going to begin post production, which involves editing, sound design, and color correction. This should take a few months; we should be finishing at the end of the winter barring unforeseen circumstances.

I will be posting any major updates to both the blog and to our Facebook page.

For now, take care!

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Night Surf making waves

28 Aug

The production team has been busy and we have a few big updates to announce:

First, our Kickstarter campaign is almost 30% funded! Help us get past the first $1,000 (only $50 left to go as of posting…)!

Second, we’re at 140 likes on our Facebook Page! Getting to 150 sure would make our week!

Third, Night Surf had a great write-up in The Sun Chronicle.

Last, we had our very first rehearsal! The cast is so amazingly talented; it’s wonderful to see it all come together. Although we couldn’t have a proper photo shoot, we did snap a quick photo. So, meet the cast of Night Surf:

From left: Jake Gutwillig, Sebastian Konarski, Caitlin O’Neill, Selima Smith-Dell, Paul Goleburn, and Katie Barrett

Thank you for all your support so far — keep spreading the word about Night Surf!

Creating the Visual Feel of “Night Surf”

22 Aug

Yesterday afternoon, I met with Shaun Clarke, Night Surf’s director of photography. During our meeting, we discussed how to create a visual style that will at once be straightforward but also give depth and insight into the characters and the world they inhabit – aka the visual “feel” of the movie. When creating the “feel”, there is a fine line to follow between entertaining realism and actuality.

Films that cross the line into actuality tend to be disorienting and a bit unsettling, sometime as an advantage. Think of The Blair Witch Project. Here is a film that imitated real life. It brought us into the story with shaky camera work, verité documentary scripting, and improvisation among actors. Yet, when I saw it (and perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I doubt it), I never felt the “wow, this is real” feeling I’ve had with other films. More so, on a repeat viewing, I found The Blair Witch Project unwatchably bad.

The Hurt Locker, I felt, brought me into the action and made it feel like I was there, in Iraq, with the gritty sand and crunching footsteps, diffusing bombs with Ralph Fiennes and Jeremy Renner.  The Hurt Locker (and this is also true of most Katherine Bigelow’s films) was so engaging because it combined the feel of real life with the wonders of cinema. Instead of handheld cameras, they used shoulder-mounted stabilization. Instead of improvisation, there was a tight and believable script.

This helps lead to a suspension of disbelief in the audience that will allow them to forget they’re sitting in a dark room eating $8 popcorn next to a teenager who won’t stop texting and a guy snoring two rows back. Instead, the audience has entered the world of the film.

Leading into the production of a film, the “feel” needs to be consciously decided; it will have an immense impact on the final film. The “feel” can break a story by pushing the audience away and making them watch as a spectator, or it can draw and audience in and have them as part of the action and adventure.

We hope for the latter.

By combining our collective knowledge of cinema with a strong sense of reality, we want to bring the audience into a shocking, bleak, and terrible world – and have them love every minute of it.

Note: This blog post was supposed to be about the basics of production, but I rambled and strayed almost, but not quite, off topic. Sorry about that – it will likely happen again.

The Art of Pre-Production

17 Aug

In filmmaking, there are three main stages of production: pre-production (planning), production (principle photography), and post-production (editing). Each have their own challenges and rewards, but they all play into one another.

Unless you’re into film, the whole thing can be a little confusing — to make it easy to understand, think of grocery shopping. Pre-production is everything from making the grocery list to driving to the market. Production is doing your shopping. Post-production is finding a place in the fridge for all the food you just bought.

 

A storyboard from Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” showing the road to the Overlook Hotel.

The pre-production process can easily be the longest of all. In filmmaking, pre-production begins once the script is completed and the production team (mainly the producer and the director), start assembling the parts needed before principle photography. This process can take anywhere from a few months to a few years, depending on the project.

Much like principle photography, pre-production is an art form. It takes a certain level of mastery to correctly and competently plan a film. Think of preparing for the grocery store — the more work you can do, the better. Do you have your recipes for the entire week planned out? Good, because then you’ll buy exactly what you need. If you don’t plan this out, you may end up spending much more than necessary, or, even worse, you’ll end up opening the fridge on Wednesday only to find out there’s no food left but crusty yellow mustard!

Filmmaking, in this regard, is very similar. Especially on a small shoot, we want to bring all the equipment we need to set — not more, not less. And this is where strict planning comes into play. By knowing what we need ahead of time, we can anticipate additional needs on set while preparing for problems that may arise.

Now, it may seem like filmmaking can be a game of numbers and preparation, but that’s only part of it. Pre-production is also a time when the film’s visual style, pacing, and characters get fleshed out; this is where much of the creativity of filmmaking takes place. When in pre-production it’s important to remember not to think solely in facts in figures, but also in desires and needs.

As filmmakers, maintaining a balance of creativity and reality, is what gets a film off the ground. Keep your head too far in the clouds and you’ll either end up with an unfilmable script or you’ll overshoot your budget; bury your nose in the ledger and you’ll never end up making the film.

I’ll be talking more about the full production process over the next few blog posts, so keep an eye out.

In the meantime, head on over to our Kickstarter and Facebook pages to see what we’re up to!

Au revoir!

“Night Surf” Kickstarter Has Launched!

16 Aug

Possibly the biggest news yet: our Kickstarter has launched! Before I waste any more time talking about it, head over there and have a gander. We have awesome rewards, a snazzy video starring Ericka and I, and even a brand new photo!

The way Kickstarter works is by meeting a funding goal by a specified deadline. If we don’t reach our goal in the allotted time, we don’t get anything! Fortunately, the folks at Kickstarter make it awfully easy to donate — you just have to have an Amazon account (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?). Also fortunately, we don’t take failure lightly.

The Kickstarter can be found at: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/daveh/night-surf. Click that, or copy and paste it into your browser to start the adventure!

Now, back to the topic at hand: fundraising…

Fundraising is an integral part of filmmaking. From big budget blockbusters to no budget Indies, everyone needs money. The difficult part of film fundraising is that there is little-to-no return,which is why Kickstarter is great.

By going through Kickstarter, we are promising you a return on your investment. Whether it’s a signed script, a Blu-Ray, or a haiku written by yours truly, everyone leaves with something.

Also, you’re investing in art — everyone involved in the Night Surf film is a creator. Creating the inner thoughts of a character, creating dialogue, or creating lighting design, your contribution will help to further the innate desire to create something from nothing, to give life where there wasn’t before.

I hope this post encourages you to at least spread the word of our project. Send this along to friends, colleagues, anyone who may be interested in art or film; we promise not to disappoint.

Over the next month, we’ll be posting much more… so, keep an eye out.

For now, stay classy.

The Icing of Casting

9 Aug

Casting, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is both extremely difficult, and integral to the success of a film. To help explain how important it is to find the right actors, I’m going to compare them to cake — in doing this, I don’t mean to offend any actors out there (nor any particularly well made cakes).

If filmmaking were cake making, the actors aren’t the flour, baking soda, or water that go into the batter. They aren’t the sugar, vanilla, or eggs. Hell, they aren’t even the icing and sprinkles on top. Acting is, without a doubt,  the 9.5″ pan passed down from grandma, the one that without, you couldn’t even dream of perfection.

So far, we’ve been lucky, but still in need of that final actor to complete the Night Surf team. And, as of this afternoon, we are excited to announce we have found that person.

Paul Goleburn, a senior at Emerson College, will be joining us as Needles, as we venture forward into the unknown that is filmmaking.

So long, for now!

Casting

5 Aug

On Saturday we had a casting session to find an actor for the character Needles. Needles was particularly difficult to cast because of the nature of the character, he has to be at once powerful, yet scared, a passive leader, and a bit trashy.

Finding the right actor for this role has been difficult because we need someone who has a wide range, yet is able to make these conflicting character traits appear natural and unforced.

With a wonderful turnout of talented actors, it has been a tough decision, but we think we have found the right candidate…

Within the next few days, we will announce that actor. In the meantime, feel free to read about our other talented actors (above) and follow us on Facebook!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!