Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Vision Stays Intact

The Biggest Challenge of Jeopardy's Pre-Production is FINALLY complete.
As far as Prop/Set Construction, this was the first thing I started and like the Location Problem, was the last thing I completed. With the exception of hammering the roof on the Newspaper Stand and making a little nook for cigarettes, candy etc... It's done. Looking at it without periodicals on it and by itself without the vendor table, and attachments
it doesn't look like much and of course, I couldn't stand it so I had to add to it to make it more believeable by itself so I went out and blew the budget on these fancy lights to raise the production value. (Honestly, it will probably be one of the better impulsive purchases when it comes down to it.)

The story behind the Newspaper Stand and the Majority of Set Design for the film was really a funny thing. Rick's original story was told in the 3rd person and how he sets up the premise in it, you just can't do telling a story visually.

Excerpt from the Original Story

We had to visually explain in seconds what was going on, so I came up with the sidewalk vendor newsstand that's riddled with different Newspapers and Weekly magazines all with the same headline of a serial killer threat looming. Boom! Knocks it out without saying a word. To boot, the Newspaper Vendor would be listening to a radio where a Newscaster would be talking about the killer on the loose as well. Now, with my idea I knew I was in for an undertaking. Not only would I have to build an entire newspaper stand, but I would have to design enough fake magazines and newspapers to fill it. That or spend $30,000 in licensing
fees for every old Time, Sports Illustrated, and GQ magazine I used that showed up in the foreground or background of a shot. That wasn't going to happen obviously. So I went to work.

My Original Schematic for the Newspaper Stand I made to show Freddy

My Father-In-Law, Freddy, was the smartest man I knew in the construction department that probably would not charge me much for some advice. I drew up a diagram of what I wanted it to look like and went to him for an estimate. My original estimate for the venture I gathered from lumber shopping was upwards of $360.00. After he looked at it, it was under $100.00. He gave me a shopping list and Payton and I went to lumber yard.

The Expensive Designer Lights

With Freddy's intuition we constructed the stand in 4 sessions and Freddy, God Bless Him, keep me not cutting corners. Every screw was flush, every board was measured and every nook and cranny was painted. From there we installed some designer halogens to the tops of the shelves to add a little extra illumination to the six months of hard work: The Magazine Covers.

If you keep up with this journal I'll spare you another explanation on them, but for several months I got a crash course in InDesign and created using a lot of my father's photos, 30 fake magazine covers. Upon completion, I sent them to a friend, Chad East's outfit and they printed me 3 covers of each and scored, (pre-folded,) 2000 sheets of paper to be

inserted and stapled to the magazine cover. Once it all came back, my wife and I worked diligently one night folding, inserting and stapling the mags together. The stapler was brand new when we started, now it's just a piece of cast iron junk.

Couple of Pictures of the final magazines

The most important periodical was that day's newspaper and the headlines screaming: Leather Strap Strangler Kills Fourth. This was the hardest job of all of the prop design. I contacted the local paper and the Layout Editor, Lori Dellinger was kind enough to give me the measurements and format of the Hickory Daily Record. Using the specs, I created a front and
back page, inside and out, of the 'Metro Post' and two different versions of the 'Skyline Daily Record.' Reasoning for two is, every city has at least 2 different papers, BUT we also have a flashback scene that happens a week prior to the present night, where Henry, the main character is watching Dana, the female, at a coffee shop and uses a newspaper to conceal
his face. So we couldn't very well use the same paper. I had originally done all three in color praying for a break from the "Expense Gods" when it came time to print.

The Original Color Layout

After several dead ends, The Taylorsville Times committed to helping us out. The problem was we couldn't afford a color run and in all honesty I had seriously contemplated the final looking better for the movie to be in black and white. I had spent hours and hours inserting pictures, text and laying out these papers. But in order to run the paper, I would have to convert all the images from CMYK Color to Grayscale which was an absolute undertaking. The problems didn't end there. The HDR paper's measurements were much larger than the Taylorsville paper and in order to stay in our price range, we had to comply to the Times' specifications, so then I was pitted with the task to fix the layout to fit the paper size. When it was all said and done, the adjustments took longer than the original layout did. Nevertheless, the nicest guy in the world at the Times, Mica, worked with me and happened to be a movie junkie like myself and was excited about the project. I was skeptical after all the adjusting on how the finished paper would look. When he called me to come down and pick them up, I cringed.

Then I walked into the office and there they were... And they looked phenomenal. I couldn't have been happier or prouder of the key prop of this film's outcome. So as the hustle and bustle of pre-production design subsides and we look toward the final nerve wracking thirty days of creative energy working for one common goal, I rest easy knowing that my vision of this film has stayed almost completely in tact thus far. That to me is the biggest accomplishment of them all, because never when you are working with no money, limited resources and time, do you ever not have to compromise. I have yet to do so, (location situation pending.)

I guess I can be grateful. With a handful of people's generosity and work combined with my bordering compulsive patience for detail and perfection, I am one step closer to what I have now been calling, "my finest hour."

The Final Newspapers After Print

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