Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Jeopardy Mock Movie Poster

As We Move to the Other Side...

This will be the last entry made before Ryan and I step onto the concrete of the college with 13 of the finest filmmakers and 8 of the best actors following us. From the first film we ever did back in 1996, Ryan and I were a well oiled machine. I guess you can call him my heteroexual soul mate and although we haven’t shot anything together since a real estate commercial back in 2004, it will take us about five minutes to find the rhythm again.

There is a trust and a loyalty that will never be broken and so when Ryan said, “You put it together like you always do, I’ll pay for it," it started a plan of epic proportion.
That demand has evolved into a massive and exciting collaboration that within a week will spill out in explosion of creativity from two guys who have matured in their craft ten fold since 2004. It willl be a weekend not anybody involved will soon forget. From the first scene we shoot of a flashback sequence at Lenoir Rhyne to the last scene we shoot where Henry peers through the doors of Dana's apartment complex, it's going to be the most exhiliating experience since my son was born.
This is what God put me on this earth to do. This is all I know. This is my life.

My wife will never understand my drive and passion for this trade. She calls it "unrealistic." She misses the point. I love doing it. She'll roll her eyes but if I didn't have this I would be dead or in jail. If my father had not given me an opportunity when I was 20 to go out west and go to college and I hadn't had the balls to take off by myself to the big city, I could safely say I would not be the person I am today. With the exception of my kids, it's my happiness, my love, my passion and my drive.

So you can imagine the excitement I have being able to do this and not only that, but do it with the guy who seven years ago made a pact with me to make films together as we grew into old men. I can't sleep. I can't stop smiling and I can't sit still. As this entry becomes emotional for me, I have to thank Richard Deal who generously gave us the rights to adapt his award winning short story. I have to thank my Father and my great friend Colin who have unconditionally contributed start up funds for this venture. I have to think the great cast: Phil, Christina, Mark and all the others for believing in me enough to waive their fee and take a chance on me as a filmmaker and the valiant crew members: Skip, Ennix, Lane, Kelby, Brian, Mark, Freddy, Zak, Adam, and Shane who I threw every obstacle at in the past three months and they just kept coming, determined to help me succeed.

To Freddy Hedrick, who generously devoted his time and expertise in helping me build the massive newsstand needed for the key scene in the film. He then generously donated his whole erray of toys from a camper to a generator for the cause.

To Megan who even after being told she couldn't get paid her fee decided to stick with me and contribute her special effects and makeup genius anyway.

To all the brave people who have agreed to watch Payton and River for the entire weekend so I can stay focused and away from the house for the time needed to complete principle photography.

To all the Extras coming out to do what's referred to in Hollywood as "the most boring job in pictures." I promise I want let it get boring.

And finally, to Ryan who not only is paying for a majority of this film but is also providing his talent behind the camera, the HD Camera, the still camera, the mobile editing bay that are all key elements in giving this film the high production value needed to be a competititor in festivals like Sundance, Telluride and Tribeca. But scratch all the assets and financials he's provided. It goes much deeper than that. I've let Ryan down much more than he's let me down. From not returning to LA to become his business partner to bailing on a job opp in Rhode Island, our friendship has stood the test of time, but somehow we are still collaborating, still dreaming and most importantly still working. I am a lucky bastard to have him as my wingman on this project.

To get him briefed on all the work I've done I've duplicated my Production Notebook. The film was too big to just tuck everything in a back pocket like I normally would so I had to actually do some work and organize all of it. He'll have a five hour flight and everything in that notebook will give him my vision on the film. All he'll have to do is come up with how much color, shadow, and light he wants to use.

The next entry documented on this site will be on the other side of production and every thing will be changed whether it be good or bad. For I always say, "Creating your vision on film is a dream. It's watching the vision you created that is the nightmare."

... I believe this film will abolish that train of thought for me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Herrrrrressss Henry!!!!

A still shot of the talented Phil Vaglia preparing for his role as Henry in my short film Jeopardy, shooting September 27,28,29th.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Future

With Jeopardy's initial production a mere 11 days away from being completed and post production beginning, the time to start thinking more down the road is upon me. I am great at multi-tasking but that doesn't mean I like to do it and when it comes to my craft, I walk a very fine line. Luckily I have four/five things on my plate that I will begin tackling come maybe two Fridays from now and none of them really overlap each other where I compromise creativity by trying to do too much.

One: My friend Clint, who starred in my Junior film, 'A Soldier's Battle,' and then 'Jobbers,' has begun making a pretty good living making horror movies and has his epic western horror film, "Dead Man's Draw," filming in Dallas in October and he has privileged and honored me by asking me to be the 1st Assistant Director. That will be just what the doctor ordered coming off of a year of internal misery over prepping Jeopardy. It will be nice to be on a real set again.

Two: Of course, Jeopardy's Editing. The plan at this point is to cut a rough cut of it in NC and then break out to my home away from home, LA and master it. All the while meeting with our new investors about the future of Roadhouse Pictures and Horror Films.....

Three: That's right.... It looks like we've been tapped to do a couple of B Horror Films/Straight to DVD kind of things to get us moving in a Filmmaking kind of direction. They pay, and are fun as hell to do. We're looking at 3 titles at $300,000.00 a piece. (I'm sure that will go down before the smoke clears. It always does.) So funny, Ryan, Rick and Garrick [me] the three guys responsible for merging to make Rick's story finds themselves kind of all writing their own on their own and then merging ideas to fine tune all three. I cheated. I started writing 'Blood on Ansel River,' a year ago. Of course I got to page 30 and re invisioned it and stopped writing it as Jeopardy and Meter began taking all my time. Well, it's back to the 'Blue Pencil' and notebook to finish and get my career moving at a faster pace.

Fourth: Real simple... Find a new real job to get me until January. I REALLY REALLY HATE MINE.

The first three pages of "Blood":

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Where's My Badge At!?!?

Well, just as I reached the relaxing period or should I say quiet before the storm that begins next Friday morning, I got hit with an issue.
It is probably mostly my fault for taking it for granted or should
I say depending on somebody else to come through on time.

In one of the key shots of the film a police officer shoves a badge into
one of the leads faces and there is a POV shot and Reaction shot that
basically... Well... Mean everything. So where I've had to cut corners
in the finance department in almost every column, this prop was not
being compromised. I cut the fake magazines to a 30 count instead of 50. I
cut the color newspaper print to black and white. I settled for many
compromises along the way. This particular prop, I was not going to.
The shot is too important for the film and needs a clear BAM! in your face
shot like you see underneath.

Storyboard sequence of shots with badge.

Well I designed and found a custom shop up in Pennsylvania to do the badge.
They denied me because I didn't have a police certification so I sent them all my credentials, even background check and sketches and boards of what I was going to do with this badge. I simply wanted 'METRO/HARBOR CITY' on the top of insignia and 'VICE UNIT' around the bottom.

That was a no/no so I had to go back and forth with them over the wording allowed on the badge. We finally get it settled and I wasn't thrilled with what I had to do, but was sure with the word 'METRO' and 'DEPARTMENT' on it, I could figure the rest out. (A custom badge without credentials cannot for any circumstances have words like, UNIT, DETECTIVE, OFFICER, NARCOTICS etc on it unless you have the police department on payroll and extensive props that are licensed and inventoried.) That is not me so I had to comply with the rules. Well, I did all they asked and in return they promised me the custom badge would ship in two weeks... It's been five and I have heard nothing about where it is or its status. The last I heard it was going to the plant to be made.
I am a week and a half out and I don't know if it is going to make it AND like I said the shot is OF KEY IMPORTANCE!!! Anybody got a badge or know a cop. I'm sure if some of my friends read this, that question is a no-brainer.

Here is one of the drawings I sent them to prove I was not a police impersonator. It did not matter.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Stronger and Stronger...

So the weekend found change. Lots and all for the good. It was as if the low budget filmmaking angel came down from the heavens and said, "ah shit Garrick, we'll let you have this one." A camper and generator were found free of charge. Ryan booked a flight, (arrives Thursday night.)

We ended up reacquiring our first lead of choice for Dana out of default and the small things and elements needed have been put on a tight schedule to be taken care of through out the next two weeks. The only thing we did lose and lose big on is our Make Up artist. As horribly sad as it is, (I was looking so forward to working with her,) I almost am relieved because I feel this shoot will be a fast and furious kind of workflow and Megan likes to be very methodical and precise about every little thing. This may have clashed, it may not have. I will never know because we had to trade her pay for a plane ticket and van. We'll look down the road to begin a working relationship with Megan on the next, not so low budget, outing if I can't figure out a way to keep her. As far as me, my mind is clearing and the stress is lifting. As I step into the abyss in front of me, I am with every day growing stronger and more anxious to shoot this film.

Here is what I did all weekend. Porno Mags and Cigarettes.... It relieves me.
(These are props. You should be keeping up.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Words of Wisdom to Carry On

Last night, I sent an email out to everybody that may have sounded like I was less confident than I normally would be about this production. I explained to them every little problem I was having with the preparation and I believe looking back I was very apologetic but at the same time may have sounded like I had begun to lose passion and determination to make this film. That I will say is not true. I was just trying to say, I am done trying to predict the different scenarios that could take place over the three days and from here on out I was just going to go with it and they were either in or out. (Even as bad as I feel for having to go back on many words of mine.) Then this morning, Mark secured the classroom location, I took care of a couple of the bigger loose ends and I got this reply back from one of my crew guys who had been around since day 1, Shane Meador.

He's damn right. 18 days and counting...

Monday, September 8, 2008


Like 'Red Apples' in Tarantino films and 'Nails' in Kevin Smith films,
I finally got to make my own cigarette brand. I've been waiting
for sometime for the opportunity. Jeopardy will be the first film that,
'Squares,'are revealed. A roommate from college called cigarettes
squares for some odd reason. I never really asked him where that came
from, but always thought it was a cool name for them.

I had already done the design for the cartons, but this what the individual
pack will look like.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Feelin' Like Francis

I feel like Coppola on the set of his Apocalypse Now and we haven't even started rolling camera yet. Where Coppola's budget ballooned out of control as a result of little elements missed and uncontrollable circumstances mounting up while they were shooting, mine is swiveling up like a dick in an ice box with only three weeks to go before shooting.

I was relieved for two days at the thought of all the large and larger tasks being complete with time to spare, but as I started jotting down the small and smaller things to do, I realized if I added them all up I was in for large and larger amounts of work. You could say I didn't prioritize correctly, but let's be serious. One guy, working full time, raising two kids, and trying to put a film together all by himself was just asking for failure in a prioritized world. Let's look at the problems to come:

1) Out of Money: The budget started at $6000.00. That quickly moved to $5000.00 realizing that all my work over the last year had really not left the film at that amount of budget, unless WE WANTED TO PAY EVERYONE. (What a novel idea.) Anyway, from $5000.00, I crunched the numbers to a VERY tight $4700.00. Well all of a sudden, that was too much and I needed to get it down to $4000 so I was pitted into shaving more or halting all progress and going out and raising the difference, so I was forced to cut the out of town crew we had hired which was heart-breaking, because we just couldn't get the hotel total where we wanted it to be. The funny thing is the out of town crew didn't go away. They said, "FU Garrick," and demanded they were coming to help if they had to pay themselves. As much as I like that spirit, I couldn't help but be embarrassed that not only could I not pay them, I couldn't afford to put them up after all this time of waiting. Then two days ago, I was told $3000.00 was all there was, which is not enough to make the film and has put me in a situation of either one- finding someone to borrow money from or two- finding a new location. There is no time for location scouting, contacting owners etc, so it looks like I'll be back where I was a year ago, preparing to sell somebody into investing in the film.

2)Crew Quarters: With the out of state crew coming in anyway, I am trying to refuse they spend their own money to stay over, even at bargain rates, so I offered my house as a free bed and breakfast. There is only one issue: I am having additional family room built on as we speak, BUT it's not done yet and sure, it's big enough to fit the cast, crew and their families, IF it is livable by September 27th. If it isn't I have enough room for maybe two if I'm lucky, unless I run my wife and kids out, then maybe 4 if one can fit on a 2 year old's bed. This is the biggest problem of all.

3) The Little Things: With this newsstand, I was so consumed with getting it constructed along with the magazine and newspaper design that I didn't realize, (or I did just failed to register it,)is that I'm going to need a lot more than just cigarettes and magazines at this stand. Those vendors sell magazines, crossword puzzles, potato chips, bubble gum etc... And just like the cigarette licensing I would/will have to avoid showing any name brands for those items as well. On top of that, I will have to construct some sort of side shelf to put all this stuff on and even another key point: The Newspaper Vendor has to have a stool to sit on. Every vendor has a stool. All that stuff as small as it is, costs money. Money, I now, don't have. Heaven forbid the newspaper stand after all that work, look plain sitting there in that alley. I don't know if I could live with myself.

4)Back to the Hotel: There was another thing, (a huge foul up,) I missed with our hotel location. The Quality Inn has plastic card entry everywhere. From the pool to inside, to the hall into your room, it is all card entry. This does not work for my story nor one of the key elements of suspense where we have close ups of keys entering locks and because we can pull off an apartment building with our angles and the way we're shooting it, leaving the card entry thing in the film would be a no-no. So now Adam and I have to build two fake door bases equipped with a door knob and lock on it to substitute for the lock leading in the building and the lock leading into Dana's apartment. Then we have to be careful not to show the card entry on any of the doors while shooting in the hallway or anywhere else.

5)Home Base: A luxury some would say, to others a necessity, but our idea of renting an RV was flushed the minute we realized we were running out of money. It was a big expense. The Rental was $668 for the three days and along with that a $500 deposit in cash was needed when we picked it up. Not a Credit Card swipe deposit, but actually cold hard cash. In the words of my daughter, Payton, "not too good." So as relieving as it is to be able to take $700 non-refundable funds off the bottom line, it wasn't so relieving to realize that the tool would have been completely useful. Since Saturday we would be shooting a slew of little setups all over Hickory, the RV would have been a perfect place to store and carry the main tools of the shoot. Since we would be doing makeup the RV would have also acted as the salon where Megan could work her magic without disruptions as well as a place we could keep the laptop and drive we need to load the footage from the camera. Ennix could work without disruption on his trips to empty the P2 card. From there it could actually be a place where 4 crew members could sleep be it in my driveway or in front of the hotel. And if nothing else, it would have been a good place Ryan and I could have gone to yell the stress out on each other. Now... I don't know. I live in frickin' KOA heaven and have yet to find somebody who would loan me a RV. (Do you blame them?) So now we will have to put up a tent or set up camp in the back of my Jeep. Not the coolest thing in the least bit.

So with principle photography looming, the proverbial low budget production plan shuffle begins. The last minute adjustments start happening that make or break a picture. I've had plenty of energy in past films to endure this frantic period. This one, I'm unsure of. I worry, I'll forget to do MY job. The job I planned to do when I started all this. Focus on the storytelling is my job, so why am I at Sam's Club trying to figure out if I only have the budget for the cheaper "Faygo" version or I actually saved enough a long the way to splurge and go with "Fanta." Why am I suddenly consumed with a fear that my room won't be done in time and I'll have no where to put the crew, instead of being joyous about the fact that in the next month I would have finally made the movie that took me a year to put together? As my next three weeks are limited in time and my financial responsibility at this point in time has to be shifted to my family, I fear what is not done on Jeopardy will have to remain undone unless the answers come and knock directly on my front door. I will do whatever I can whenever I can. If accommodations don't arise now, we will deal with it when the time comes. For now, I must focus on the story and making the picture… My job is what I have to focus on. The Unit Production Manager part of my job will just have to wait until I am mentally prepped to yell, "What the fuck are you waiting on? Roll the camera!"

Here is where my addition is as of this morning at 5:30am.

Shooting 24/7

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