Jan 15, 2008

Clothes Make the Man

Early last summer, just as we were finishing up the script, I started looking for a costume designer. Of course, with the subject matter we're dealing with, there's only one kind of artist I was looking at-- someone who did comics. Cue Eric Wight (www.ericwight.com).

I remember first seeing Eric Wight's art the summer before, when he did some really cool Mike Sekowsky-esque pages for Meltzer's Justice League #0. After that, there was the Mon-el story for the Action Comics Annual, and then at one point I stumbled across The Escapist. I was pretty much sold even before talking to him. Eric designed four of our characters-- Wraith, The Grey Raven, Helio and The Dart. When Helio's name changed to Sparrow, we did some alterations to the design (including colors and the logo), and eventually I decided I liked The Dart's costume so much that we would instead use it for Blaze (sans the helmet).

But anyway, here are Eric's original designs. With a movie that is supposed to take place in 1947 and then 1963, it was obviously important to have that golden and silver age feel to the suits.

The Office

The first of our (it was then supposed to be three) weekends was in the works for months. Even before Alec and I started breaking the script, we knew we would be building the Grey Raven’s office. With the amount of screen time (three scenes) that take place in the location, and the logistics nightmare that filming in an actual office would provide (twenty stories up during the day and at night, with a superhero coming in through the window?) made the decision pretty simple.

As we started discussing the shoot with the production coordinator at Chapman (Michele Kennedy), the only sound stage that was available was the smaller of the two main stages (Stage A). Don’t get me wrong, even having a stage is pretty sweet; however, Stage A provided to be a touch crammed when trying to fit a 30 foot green screen at a far enough distance away in order to light it. When all was said and done, we were punching a 10K through the side window and 16 park hands on speed rail worked as sky bounce.

Because of all the visual effects, our DP (Andrew Davis) picked the 7218 film stock from Kodak—at 200iso, the plan was for our grain to be nice and tight, making effects tracking/compositing much easier. However, as you can see from the pictures, the stock has a lot of latitude, and as a result, our window did not blow out (of course, it’s times like these you realize why the term “fix it in post” was coined heh)

The set was designed by Dorothy Street (Production Designer) and Mike Grier (Art Director/Visual Effects). The cabinets (and most of the office) were built from scratch by Mike Grier, Josh Grier, and Mitch Fait. The below render was an early test from Mike, to give everyone an idea of the kind of set he wanted to build.

The Safehouse

Text coming soon. But for now, enjoy a couple frames

Jan 13, 2008

The Crime Scene

Ah, night exteriors in LA.

Lacystreet Production Center is a backlot studio in downtown LA, just north of the city where the 5 and the 110 meet. It's an old textile mill that has been used in a variety of films ranging from Catch Me if You Can to LA Confidential. And it looks freaking amazing.

Due to problems with locations, we had scrapped the idea of shooting the crime scene and climactic fight until after New Years. But when I got the call that Lacystreet was available for 1 of our previously planned 3 nights (Sunday), we decided that it was too good to pass up for our crime scene, especially since all the actors schedules worked, we had a great crew lined up, and the editor was yelling at me to "for the love of GOD, at least shoot SOMETHING before Christmas-- we're supposed to screen this in April? There's no way we can screen this in April. You're out of your mind if you think we can do this by April..." Of course, this meant renting equipment for the entire weekend, and only using it for one night. Yeah, model of efficiency we are. Sigh.

Now normally, a night exterior would require a day of pre-rigging (setting up all the lights) so that when the rest of the cast and crew walk on the set for the night of the shoot, everything is ready to go (due to SAG regulations, you cannot legally shoot for more then 12 hours before taking 12 hours off--which is why you pre-rig). Of course, because we're students, and have the budget to match, we could only afford the location for 12 hours. How the hell could we do a days worth of lighting, and a full night of shooting (some 37 shots), in 12 hours? Going over the 12 hours (even illegally) was not really an option. The location contract was quite clear that for every hour we went over would cost an additional $500.

We got to Lacystreet around 3pm with a 30 person crew and a 5 ton grip truck. As the sun began set, and the lighting crew donned walkie talkies and started scaling buildings, ladders, and catwalks, production design started work on the alley (you know, with the required debris, fog machines, dry ice, flyers, trash cans, and fake blood that you've come to expect at a night time crime scene). At the same time, I was coordinating with Andrew Davis (cinematographer) about the first shot, which would be used for the end of the film (a sunset shot of Wraith atop a rooftop, battle torn and backlit by the sun). It would be sweet-- if we could get it off before the sun went down.

More soon.

First post

Sigh. It must be a cold day in hell.

I'll be honest-- I'm not really a blog person. Writing about events in my everyday life for family or friends to read doesn't exactly enthrall me, but alas, I have resorted to starting one of these here journal type things because:

I'm making a movie.

Well, it's not exactly a movie, or at least not the kind that most people are familiar with... It won't play in theaters around the world, shatter box office records, or catapult me to international stardom (I'm making that one next year-- a sequel to Signs tentatively called Signals... I kid. Or am I?). But, in my own small world (and hopefully around the internet), it could be cool.

The film, titled The League (www.theleaguefilm.com), is about the superhero labor union in 1960's Chicago, and a former sidekick's journey to redeem himself. It's a short film (25 minutes), with a murder mystery plot that's heavy on the shadows. The whole thing is being done as a Senior Project for Chapman University.

We're currently wrapping up principle photography, with two nights of shooting left (February 1 and 2), and a screening date set for April 5 (but more likely May). As the website is still in development, I figured this would be a good place to start posting bits about the film. I'll hopefully be updating this thing fairly frequently in order to chronicle a bit of our journey.

So welcome to my corner. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.


It must be a REALLY cold day...