Fall of 2008
My buddy John Bowker told me he's thinking of trying to take advantage of some time off of work at the beginning of 2009 to shoot a no-budget video flick. He has the basic idea and has asked a couple of people about locations. My time is going to be tight between work and family commitments, but I give him dates for a few weekends that would probably work for me.
January 2, 2009
Well, we begin shooting in 4 weeks! John is still waiting for confirmation on his requested vacation days, but is moving ahead assuming he will get them off. Michelle and Darla have OK'd the use of their houses as locations and Michelle and Amanda are in for lead roles. John is still writing the script, so while I know the basic story, I can’t break anything down shooting-wise quite yet. At this point, I can't do much aside from replacing a few bulbs in my lights and generally getting things done at work and home in preparation for being completely busy with the shoot for a while. Anxious to see a script so I can begin some storyboarding!
January 7, 2009
John e-mailed me the script this morning and I read it over my lunch hour. He also got his vacation days request approved. Thank God!
The script is cool - lots of scary action scenes but about half the movie is at night, so will be a tough shoot.
John wrote in a part for the newscaster character Link Masters, whom I've had in several of my movies. The actor who plays him lives in Seattle so I think I'll be needing to make the drive up there to shoot that. Sounds like I can play the reporter for the scene.
We start shooting in 23 days. There will need to be a couple of pick-up days about a month after the two-weekend main shoot to take care of the opening sequence and various inserts.
John's hours were just cut back at work, so it's going to be a real shoesting production budget. He mentioned that he can likely afford on set snacks and drinks but may have to just call for meal breaks and let people get or bring their own. I told him I didn't mind bringing my own peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Talked to John for a bit on the phone tonight. He asked if I could do the shooting schedule, but I told him I didn't think I'd have time to with the storyboarding and other prep I need to do before we start shooting. I suggested he do it and I can look it over and recommend anything that might be shuffled around to avoid too much back-and-forth. He said he would try to get it together. He also asked if I would be willing to edit the opening credit sequence and add titles, as well as do the ending credits, plus create a new Pipedreams Entertainment logo based on an idea he has. I told him I would give it all a shot.
January 9, 2009
Mike Potter is totally up for playing Link Masters again. John has e-mailed Rob Merickel about doing effects and a few other people about being cast and crew - waiting to hear back from everyone. I plan to do a bunch of storyboarding this weekend. Since John can't come to town until the first day of the shoot, I'll either e-mail him jpgs of the storyboards or will photocopy and mail them to him in batches and we can chat about them on the phone.
January 11, 2009
Was at Rob's house on Friday night and he mentioned that John had sent him an e-mail about this new movie project, but no script, so I got on his computer and gave him a copy of the script from my e-mail account. Rob wondered about what effects were going to be needed, so I told him what I could recall off the top of my head but said he needed to check out the script and talk to John. Rob sounded interested and should be able to take the Fridays off, but not the Mondays. We'll have to make that work.
Talked to John yesterday and tonight. He said he's contacted several potential cast members but is still waiting to hear back from them. He sent me the first weekend's shooting schedule last night and I went over it tonight with the script. All in all it's pretty good - I only think there are three instances where we'll go longer than he has scheduled - John said he'd add a bit of time onto those. Had hoped to do some storyboarding but other commitments got in the way all weekend.
January 13, 2009
Heard from John this morning - Robert J. Olin and Morgan Mayhem are both on board for the movie!
January 15, 2009
Talked to John on the phone last night - his first choice for the Devon part is a no go due to scheduling conflicts. He's thinking of making it a female and casting someone I recently worked with.
John sent me the shooting schedule for the second weekend this morning and right off the bat he told me that it was "brutal!" Great! Family commitments kept me from going over it tonight so plan to do that tomorrow. John dropped me an e-mail tonight to remind me that we begin shooting in 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS?! TIME TO PANIC!!!
January 19, 2009
Went over second weekend shooting schedule - a few sequences may take longer depending on if we have trouble with blocking in small spaces and how many shots John wants on certain things. Saturday will be brutal, but Amanda is only available for three days so we just have to squeeze everything in. Storyboarding continues. I talked to John on the phone and things continue to evolve as we scream towards the first shooting date in just 11 days. Bryn Kristi is in. Rob unfortunately had a death in the family and the funeral is our first day of shooting, so he won't be able to be there to play his role (all of his scenes were scheduled for that day) and his availability for the weekend are up in the air. Since the shooting schedule is so tight, John asked me to take a look and see if I thought I could take on Rob’s role in addition to shooting. I read over it again and told him I could try it if he really wants me to. John's going to see if Rob wants to just switch with me and play the reporter.
Meanwhile, it's looking like John decided to play the Devin role himself, avoiding actor scheduling issues since he'll be there on set anyway! Also just found out we're going to have to end earlier than planned on the first Sunday as the location’s homeowner goes to bed very early (because they leave for work very early in the morning), so will need to push some scenes to Monday as best we can, or later if we can't do it (day vs. night, etc.). E-mailed three scanned storyboards to John for feedback. What a day! I'm going to bed!
January 20, 2009
John called last night and reported that Rob said he was cool with any part, so John's going to have me play the Connor role so we can keep the shooting schedule the same, and Rob will play the news reporter.
January 23, 2009
We shoot one week from today!!! Got some more storyboarding done last night and e-mailed John a few questions about shots and props in the script. John talked to Robert J. Olin last night and he's very excited about the project. Going to check all of my lights this weekend and get replacement bulbs.
January 25, 2009
Spent several hours last night going over the script and making notes.
January 28, 2009
Haven't made a diary entry for a few days as have been very busy with a family emergency. The other night we took my father-in-law to the ER. After a few hours, he was moved to ICU. By the next afternoon, he had been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. He is at home now, but we are understandably devastated and still working to find out more information about pain medications, hospice care and even just how long he may be with us, in addition to all manner of legal and practical questions swirling around in our heads. Even with only a few days until shooting begins, John offered to cancel the shoot and move it to the summer, given the major role I need to play in the movie's production. What a good man. I told him I couldn't say that my life wouldn't be any less tumultuous in the summer with these issues, and that I would do my best to get through the production and hoped that I wouldn't have to be called away from any shoots or drop out.
John's coming into town tonight and barring any emergencies, we are planning to meet and talk about the shoot. Tomorrow night I am booked with commitments at my son's school so I'll be busy with that while John meets with Michelle.
January 29, 2009
Met with John late last night. Went over some questions I had about shooting different things and showed him some more storyboards - he seemed to like the ideas just fine. We checked out under the deck in front of his parents' place as a possible location for the "under the house" scenes. I think it might work. I'm betting there is more room under there than under the actual house we'll be shooting at and I can have lights outside pointing under the deck, so no worries of them getting too hot and starting a fire in a small space or anything. We'll check out under the actual house we’re shooting at when we get there next week.
We agreed that the bottom line is we are going to have to make a lot of decisions on set. I didn't realize that John had only ever been to Michelle's place once before! Because of that, he's not sure how he wants things shot, so he'll have to decide when he arrives for the shoot. The good thing is that John and I work well together and when we are on a shoot, we develop that sixth sense and shorthand language between us and are able to make decisions quickly. With all of the stuff going on with my father-in-law, I have not had time to memorize my lines, so will have to cram for that tonight.
Talked with John on the phone today. He feels that his digital camera doesn't take good shots so asked me to bring mine and take the promo and behind-the-scenes photos. He also wants to shoot the "Toni" scenes at my house, but with all that is going on with my family, I just can't do open it up to that kind of chaos right now. Since John lives out of town, I told him I would ask a few friends about shooting at their place.
Music concert at my son's school is tonight, so it will be a late one of getting everything together and packed up for tomorrow morning. So much to do! John plans to arrive at my place at 7:45 a.m. Here we go!
January 30, 2009
First day of shooting - I was up until 12:30 or so this morning gathering items, then had trouble getting to sleep - usual pre-shoot excitement and stress! John was here at 7:30 a.m. We drove over to Michelle's and started shooting in a very small bedroom first, then in the kitchen. Next up was the dining room and some great, emotional scenes from Michelle. We were running about an hour behind, so moved some scenes to Saturday (and will be starting 2 hours earlier that day) and Sunday or Monday. We lunched on some sandwiches and then Marie finally arrived. We were shooting outside and some guy with a pressure washer started up the on driveway/road across street! Plus there were tons of trucks and cars coming by. Arrgh!
I was in some scenes today by the car and in the exercise room. John wanted lots of footage (wide shots, close-ups, mediums) so it took a while. Rob showed up to help and we moved to the barn for a few more shots and then John called it a day since it was getting too dark. John and I went to his house to upload the first tape into his computer. The power was out in half of outlets in room, so had to reconfigure some extension cords but finally got things set up! Off to bed about 12 midnight and have to meet John and Rob at Michelle's house at noon. We need to work faster, and I am hoping everyone will fall into rhythm as the shoot progresses.
January 31, 2009
Original shooting schedule called for starting at 2 p.m. but John moved it to noon to try and catch up. Found out when we got there that Michelle and Brent had a book club meeting from 2-4 p.m., so we shot with them until they had to leave. We tried to reshoot some of the exterior scenes that had the neighbor's pressure washing all over the audio from yesterday. Unfortunately the sun was so bright (compared to a cloudy yesterday) we just couldn't do it. Sounds like John still wants to try and reshoot it again some other day. So we shot my death scene, then various exterior shots of the property, ran out to Subway for lunch, then waited for Michelle and Brent to return and then picked up a few more shots.
John and I checked out the upstairs storage area of the barn and discovered that this space for which he had written elaborate action sequences was not only much smaller than he had remembered, but it was now full of tons of boxes and furniture and stuff! He and I discussed how we could somehow make it work and what we would have to move.
As time for Morgan to arrive drew near, John logged onto MySpace to see if she'd sent him a message: she had. Instead of the 6:15 p.m. - 1 a.m. that John had her scheduled for, she was going to have to leave by 9 p.m. Holy shit! We quickly rearranged the schedule, shifting scene order and shooting plans to get shots with Morgan in them all done first. Morgan arrived and told us she'd gotten a bit lost and had driven into a ditch! Apparently the people who lived there were used to that happening because they had a winch on their truck and pulled her out!
Rob did a fantastic job transforming Morgan into a haggish ghost while John and I moved boxes, old furniture and other items around to create a few pathways to shoot in. We also had to clear out a path into the tiny storage area that had been empty when John saw it, so we could shoot Morgan crawling out of it! Somehow, we managed to get all of her stuff shot by 9 p.m. Brent cooked up some great sloppy joes for dinner!
We had a pow wow because John wanted to chop off a major sequence, fearing we'd be there until 5 a.m. trying to get it all done. So another day is going to have to be added to the to-be-scheduled third weekend to take care of it all.
While shooting in the garage, my big red halogen light set wouldn't work. I replaced bulbs in both lights with no luck and I was afraid the whole thing would have to be trashed. Rob fiddled with the bulbs in the sockets and suddenly they came on. They would go out every once in a while, but if the housing was tapped on, they'd come back on. Crazy. We had a bitch of a time shooting stuff behind the barn as I had to light up a flat wall and staircase and somehow make it look like nighttime. I did what I could with what I had and we just moved on. We'll have to live with it. It was pretty much an impossible shot, but without some sort of lighting crane or something there wasn't much I could do.
We then shot scenes on the side of the barn, front of the barn, front of the garage and front of the house. It was rough as it was a chilly 28 degrees out! The grass was frozen and slippery. Brent was bringing a portable gas heater along as we set and reset at each spot. I could really feel my knees and joint stiffen in the cold. Man, I felt old! When we were done, we had to scrape ice off of our cars so we could see on the way home!
February 1, 2009
Even though we were behind, John decided to keep the 2 p.m. start time today. We had been scheduled to go until 11:30 p.m., but needed to wrap up by 9 as Brent had to get up at 5 a.m. for work the next day. Another few scenes were postponed, to be picked up at a later date. We shot Brent's character arriving in his truck and the dogs kept running out to greet him! John himself threw the boot at the car for the scene and missed it completely the first take! It was pretty hilarious.
We shot the big argument scene which was tough for Brent and Michelle being married and all - they kept kissing and making up in between takes.
Not only did Brent do a great job with an emotional scene, but he made some fantastic chili dogs for dinner! We shot more in the bedroom and living room and wrapped up by 9 p.m. Boy was I tired!
February 5, 2009
Have been back to work for the last three days and ridiculously busy. On top of that, we are having massive cuts in our funding for the college I work at, the forecast for which gets worse everyday: lots of cuts already and more to come. Met with hospice yesterday about my father-in-law. Needless to say, I'm worried about a lot these days.
John told me today he thinks he is going to have to recapture all of the footage he captured last Friday! What?! He also said he's not going to be able to just upload full tapes and go through footage later - he doesn't have enough room on his computer. So he's going to have to watch all of the takes for a scene, then decide which one he likes and then stop and rewind the tape and play it over again to capture it. 180 scenes, multiple shots for most and multiple takes for each shot: Ugh, what a drag! I don't envy him. John also told me he doesn't expect our friend Eric to be able to come up as planned for the shoot this weekend, so no assistant.
February 6, 2009
Got to Marie's place about 10:15 a.m. It was just going to be Marie, John, Amanda and I today. Set up lights for first three scenes and then Marie got a call from Amanda - she couldn't be there until an hour later than the planned 11 a.m. start time. When Amanda arrived about noon, we managed to get four sequences shot fairly quickly. I think being behind schedule right off the bat made us all push harder. John knew Amanda had to leave at 1 p.m. to take a test but had only allowed an hour for it in his schedule. Turns out she needed about two-and-a-half hours! With that much time to kill I drove all the way home and grabbed a test DVD I'd made of the "It Haunts" segment of my TWISTED FATES horror anthology and brought it back for us to watch while we waited (Marie and John are both in it). Amanda got back sometime after 4 p.m. and we finally resumed shooting about 45 minutes later. We were rushing to get the day scenes done as it got darker and darker outside. The last day shots were inside the workshop and they looked OK although it does look pretty blue outside.
We took care of all of the night scenes including Amanda getting posessed, thrashing around on the bed, throwing herself off of the bed and crawling around on the floor fighting an invisible evil spirit. Man she was fantastic as always!
We ended the night with some promo shots in the kitchen of Amanda in the pink towel from the phone call shots earlier in the day. After Marie took a photo of John and I posing with Amanda, she suggested that John and I needed to wear towels, too. I was game and soon we were posing in matching pink towels. Funny stuff.
The most amazing thing was that despite a late start and a big chunk of time taken out of the middle of the day, we actually ended at 7:30 p.m. just as planned! Now that is crazy! Meeting at 9:30 a.m. at Rob's tomorrow as he agreed to let us shoot the "Toni" scenes there. We are scheduled to go until 1 a.m. Sunday morning. I am tired just thinking about it!
February 7, 2009
Well dammit - I started feeling sick this morning: sore throat and pain in back of sinuses. Really sucked all day.
Bryn Kristi was really terrific! Her scenes were shot quickly and we drove to Joe and Marie's house. Bob was sick, Amanda said she had just gotten over a cold and even Bryn was just getting over a cold. What a set! I had to head outside and black out windows before we could get started. Bob and Amanda asked to be left alone to run lines together at one point, so we all got a little bit of rest in.
It was a tricky shoot in a small space, and John and I got into a few tense moments, but nothing bad. Michelle brought lasagna for dinner which was really nice of her, but sadly all that was left by the time I got to it was the eggplant kind. Just not an eggplant kind of guy.
Got out to the workshop around 10 p.m. and it was freezing! Had to set up lighting twice due to change in shooting plans and we went over about an hour - I was driving home about 2 a.m. That was a long day.
February 8, 2009
Kind of a blur. My knee hurt from kneeling on the workshop's concrete floor too much the previous night and I was still feeling under the weather. Lots of lines being practiced today so I was able to close my eyes and rest several times. Amanda made me chamomile tea with lemon and honey - so very sweet of her.
Joe ad-libbed a lot of his swearing and some of it was hilarious! Then, he helped us rig up the 'under the house' scene in his shop. John had thought about shooting it under the deck at his parents' house, but it was too dirty and wet. Using black plastic and some pieces of wood, we just created a little set in the workshop and it worked out great! Looked just like the crawlspace under a house! All of that and we ended 15 minutes ahead of schedule! Amazing!
February 9, 2009
John brought his computer over today about 8:30 a.m. to upload footage. Had to run a few tests to see what import format was best and call his friend in L.A. for some editing program advice, but soon got to the business of watching takes, picking the ones he liked and uploading them. I think he finished up around 4:30 p.m. or so, and got all of the second weekend scenes uploaded. From what I could see, I'm pretty happy with the footage - lots of cool shots, gore effects and performances. Amazing what magic can happen sometimes seemingly by the force of sheer will. I burned a CD of photos from the shoot so far and gave it to John. He heads back to central Oregon tomorrow and hopes to work on editing half of the movie before returning to the valley for a pick-up weekend. I am still really sick and was pretty much zoned out on the couch in a haze. I tried taking a bit of a nap in the middle of the day, but even that was difficult. My head feels as solid as a bowling ball!
February 11, 2009
E-mailed John about the weekend of Feb. 28/29. I'll be busy with family stuff for part of Saturday, but told John I could be available at 2 p.m. and all day Sunday. He's working on developing a shooting schedule. Although I am still sick, I had to go back to work, what with having been gone several days recently and being on deadline with a major project. Really, really sucks. My father-in-law continues to decline so have had to deal with that. Not sure what will be happening with him on the pick-up weekend, but I know John really wants to have the rest of this thing shot. I'll do the best I can. Then take a nap for a year or two.
February 24, 2009
Dealing with my wife's dad has taken over my life and sadly it seems that things are as difficult as possible at every turn. John called me yesterday and told me he was moving this weekend's shoot to the first weekend in April. I was so thankful. When he called, I was all set to tell him that I was going to have to drop out of the project due to all of my family stuff. What a great friend. While home with my sick son yesterday, I imported a bunch of the footage into my iMac. For one thing I needed to get the opening credits footage loaded in for when I work on that later. Since it was easier for me to just capture entire tapes, I decided I could save John some time by trimming the footage down to just the good takes and removing bloopers, times when the camera was left running while we discussed a shot, etc. I managed to trim the hour's worth of footage from tape one to 22 minutes. John will still be in town this coming weekend and wants to spend Saturday capturing footage. I doubt I'll have time to do any more work for him, but plan to share the 22 minutes to tape so he has less to wade through when picking out shots to capture. Also did a couple of sketches of Pipedreams Entertainment logos as John had asked. So, so drained right now...
March 3, 2009
My wife's father passed away yesterday at 3 a.m. The last two months have been the roughest I've had in my life.
John came by on Sunday morning and picked up the camera, cords and tapes. I'd had enough time staying home with my sick son last Tuesday and a few other small bits of time on Friday and Saturday nights to trim the footage from tape 2 as well to a lean 29 minutes. John was done capturing footage by the late afternoon and said my tape one and two trimming work helped out a lot. Sweet.
We are about a month out from the rescheduled final weekend shoot. In the next few weeks I hope to shoot the exterior and interior shots of Marie's house to run under the opening credits, maybe shoot the Link Masters newscaster footage with the actor in Washington state, and work on the new Pipedreams Entertainment logos.
March 17, 2009
Talked over pick-up shots with John on the phone last night. Went to Marie's after work tonight to get exterior and interior house shots for opening credits, plus a few other odds and ends. Amanda arrived about 5:30 p.m. and once it was dark enough we took care of a couple more shots we forgot on that crazy weekend shoot with her. Rob is out of town for 2 weeks so his newscaster footage will have to wait until the pick-up weekend. Going to Washington this Friday night and will shoot the Link Masters newscaster footage.
April 3, 2009
John came to town and he and I recorded commentary track for PLATOON OF THE DEAD.
April 4, 2009
Final weekend of the Evil Rising shoot. Saturday was all at John's house starting at noon. Scheduled to only go to 9:30 p.m. - went long and I got home around 1 a.m. Bob Olin once again found great actors - Maren McGuire and Jeremiah Benjamin.
Maren went through a 5-hour make-up job from Rob painting tiny symbols all over her arms, face, chest and belly.
At the end, Rob, Bob, Jeremy and I were all working on her to finish it so we could get to shooting! She put up with being covered in sticky blood and getting tied to the bed for several more hours in a hot room. What a trooper. And she told John she'd be game to do more movies with us. Score!
Bob made a blood transfusion machine out of a suitcase, tubing and some car parts and it looked perfect as a hodge-podge device! It was a long day and hot inside, but got some fantastic looking footage.
April 5, 2009
Sunday started at my house - first, we shot Rob as newsreporter Chuck Gomez.
Next, we did the earthquake effect in my garage. Pure magic pulled out of nothing. Rob brought his fog machine over and John had purchased two bags of peat moss. I took a large styrofoam container and punched a hold in one side for the fog machine to shoot into. I grabbed two boards and covered an edge on each with crumbled-up paper bags, then spray painted them black. My wife suggested some red Christmas lights inside the container and then we placed the two boards on top and covered them with dirt. With the framing just right, Rob filled the container with smoke and John and I rattled the boards and pulled them apart, creating a reddish, smoky "crack in the earth" effect. Pretty sweet.
John bought us lunch at Subway and then it was over to Michelle's. We took care of some quick pick-ups and then John and I set up and shot in the upstairs of the barn while Michelle was getting made-up. John got dizzy a few times when laying on the floor - I think it was the heat plus he said he wasn't been sleeping much and thought he was getting sick. Kind of scary. We finished with everything we could shoot without Michelle and were ready to take a break when Michelle and Rob walked in! So we plowed ahead and got some scary stuff on tape.
Back to the house so John could get the knitting needle-through-the-head effect done. I was able to play with the dogs and chat with Brent and relax a bit on the couch, which was nice. The needle pieces that Rob had cut were too heavy to stand up off of John's face and drooped down instead, so I suggested removing the larger end and just showing the pointy end sticking out of his head. We went up the the barn, set it up and shot it several times and I think it looked good. We packed everything up and headed home.
April 6, 2009
Burned the photos from the weekend to CD last night and gave it to John when I had lunch with him today.
End of April, 2009
Shot Dale as a pressure-washer-weilding neighbor so John can cut to him in cases where the noise is obvious in the outside footage from Michelle's house.
John asked me to direct, shoot and co-produce another production, a "body count" slasher movie he wrote called BLOOD CREEK WOODSMAN. There was an intense preproduction period followed by a gruelling 10-day shoot in August and several weekends in the fall. As a result, pick-ups for EVIL RISING were been put on the back burner.
October 26, 2009
Designed 5 logos for John's Pipedreams Entertainment. He likes 2 of them so now to refine.
November 16, 2009
Managed to get all of the Evil Rising pick-up stuff done except the credits, so John came over and uploaded everything. Will have to get the credits to him later, but he didn't seem too bent out of shape as he was already concerned about how long all of the sound fixing was going to take him - he figured into January.
March 1, 2010
Finished uploading the Evil Rising behind the scenes footage last night.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Managed to finish up the opening and closing credits about midnight. It was a little tricky making it all work in the time allotments John gave me, but I am taking it as a sign that it's all good since things happened like the music credit happening to fall over the shot of the piano and several other convenient things like that.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Came back from a family trip in the afternoon and was up until about 2 a.m. finishing trimming/editing the EVIL RISING behind-the-scenes featurette. Took a long time to render - in fact, I went to sleep, praying I would wake up in an hour and an hour later I woke up, so went downstairs and shared the credits and featurette to tape and went back to bed. Wow.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Boy, I didn't want to get up for work this morning, but did and met John at lunch to hand off the tapes and such. Feels good to have that stuff done, but I know John has a lot of work ahead of him.
John's plan was to edit BLOOD CREEK WOODSMAN after he finished EVIL RISING so BCW sat "waiting in line" for several years. Our friend Mike Hegg contacted us in June of 2012 and offered to help edit BCW together. So I made about a dozen weekend trips up to Portland to sit with Mike and edit and by the end of 2012, we had the rough cut of BLOOD CREEK WOODSMAN finished up. Work continued in 2013 and we held a world premiere of it at the 2013 Crypticon Seattle horror convention in May. John edited together a trailer for EVIL RISING that we showed during the premiere (embedded below).
Well it's been several years since I finished up my work on EVIL RISING. From what John tells me, he's got the video edit almost completed, but is still working on a lot of audio fixes and some other technical issues. Hoping he gets it finished up sometime so we all can see it!