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Shadow Falls
Sunday, 16 April 2006
Updated links
I have updated the links on this page. If you look to your right, you will see links for Starway Pictures and the locations that we visited during this shoot. In case anyone might want to visit any of these places that we called home for six days.

We filmed at Seven Oaks Mountain Cabins. The cabins have recently been renovated, and I believe renovations are still occurring. The Oaks Restaurant was our eatery of choice each time we scouted the location and may end up being used as a shooting location for the diner scene. Whispering Pines Cabins was where Neil and I slept for a couple of nights during the last weekend to get out of the cold. This may also be where we put up the entire cast and crew for the feature shoot.

Everyone we dealt with at these locations was extremely nice. In fact, they all seemed very exciting about the filming. I can't wait to be back there again.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 2:05 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 17 April 2006 2:36 PM PDT
Tuesday, 21 March 2006
Official second draft
Topic: The Script
The official second draft is finally completed. I've been working on several changes for the past few months, but for reasons that I will explain later, it was imperative that I finish the script. I finished at approximately 2:30 am.

The new version is just over 105 pages long, which is substantially longer than your typical slasher script. I added several new scenes and even a new ending, one that will hopefully set us apart from other slasher flicks. And there's an added element to the lodge sequence that will surely produce a moment of cringing silence from the audience. At least, I hope so.

Now that Shadow Falls is completed, at least for now, I have to figure out which project I want to work on next. And honestly, I have no idea.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 12:01 AM PST
Friday, 2 December 2005
Pre-screening
Topic: Trailer
It was supposed to be a simple evening. A few of the actors had gone to see Barb's play (Freezing Antarctica) and were going to stop by Rob and Barb's place for cocktails and chatting. And Rob *might* show a few scenes from the trailer.

What happened, though, was that the three actors were treated to the full rough cut ... and the response was tremendous. After watching it five or six times, the rest of the actors were called and three more showed up. Rob doesn't like all the fanfare, but the words "brilliant" and "genius" were bobbing around the room like wet apples.

After seeing the rough cut on the big plasma screen, I don't see how we wouldn't be able to get funding for the feature. The trailer has great music, a creepiness factor, humor, romance, and a whole lot of death. And the ending shot, with Robin being held down by The Terror is the perfect way to end it.

This may very well be the beginning of something big.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 3:16 AM PST
Friday, 11 November 2005
Trailer -- day four
Topic: Trailer
Here we are again. And it is damn cold this weekend. I learned how to dress rather warmly last weekend, but now it's even worse. I owe a great deal of gratitude to the person who invented thermal pants. In fact, in addition to thermal pants and jeans, I've been wearing a thermal shirt, a t-shirt, a fleece pullover, and a wool Levi jacket. Plus, one of those beanie-type caps, whatever they're called. For the second weekend in a row, I gave up my gloves to Rob, but he needs them much more than I do.

Unfortunately, I had to get to the cabins late. Today was Veteran's Day and daycare was closed. Jasmine took off work early but I still got out really late. Traffic was pretty light, though.

Before we left last week, I had asked Rob if he wanted me to make a list of possible shots that he could get off in case there was time. One of these was Kevin trying to get a gun out of an SUV, which Rob decided to do while James (our killer, The Terror) spent over two hours having prosthetics applied. So while that was being done, Rob took the opportunity to get this scene added to the roster. I missed most of it, but did get to see Jared (Kevin) scream like a little girl.

SIDELINE: I should have mentioned this last week, but in addition to all the great people working on our set, Kelly has really shone. He is the "lighting guy," but he's much more than that. He has an amazing truck, which you can find at www.allinonetruck.com (or www.kjhproductions.com). He has his own jib, a crapload of lighting equipment, walkie-talkies, and ... well, just look at his website. He even has simple stuff like Windex. The guy comes prepared. He was very professional, knew exactly what needed to be done, and didn't slack off for even a second. The first night, he looked like a ghostbuster (you had to see it) and at one point last weekend, he taught Barb and he meant by asking for a Hollywood Combo Triple with a Lollipop.

Not long after Kevin's scene arrived the moment we were all waiting for. James walked out in his full Terror outfit. He looked amazing ... not only was the wardrobe cool, but the prosthetics covering ihs face were amazing. It was quite strange having this monstrous form standing around, especially when James would start talking in a really squeaky voice.

Tonight belonged to the girls, particularly Alexis (Robin) and Alexandra (Jenn). They both had to tangle with The Terror. Honestly, Jamie Lee Curtis has nothing over these girls. Alexandra allowed herself to be pulled a few feet off the ground and even lost more than a few hairs when she yanked away from James' grip to make it more realistic. Alexis had the added nuisance of being in a thin shirt and underwear for at least 30-45 minutes in the freezing air. They both did a fantastic job at being frightened as hell. I also have to commend James, who was very good at soothing the girls' fears and keeping them at ease despite the emotions that they had to show.

One part of the shoot was particularly impressive. After watching Jenn get attacked, Paul and David lunge at The Terror. James choregraphed the action. Michael (Paul) ran at him first, James grabbed Michael's neck, more or less clotheslining him, and then Michael plunged onto his back hard. At least three or four times. Now, that's a guy who will hurt for his craft.

It's quite funny that Rob and I took great pains at crafting a story with characters whom the audience would like, with relationships that were real and dramatic. And what were we excited about shooting? Stabbings and death.

AFTERMATH

Today was long for a lot of people. Rob had arrived at around 1pm, so he had been working for about 13 hours by the time we wrapped at a little after 2am. We didn't get the lodge, so we have a long day ahead of us tomorrow.

But one very cool thing happened. Neil, who played Ronnie last weekend, had come up to hang out even though his part was finished last week and even brought up some food -- beef barley soup, sandwiches with raspberry relish (sounds weird, but it's great), and chocolate speckled almond angel food cake. You see, Neil is a chef ... in fact, he's been the private chef for both Elizabeth Taylor and Pierce Brosnan. And he never asked for anything in return ... I think the price of the food was worth hanging out with such a great group of people.

But Neil isn't staying at the cabins. He paid for a room at the Whispering Pines motel about fifteen minutes away. He offered everyone one of the two beds in his room, but none of the actors took it. So I jumped at the chance.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 6 November 2005
Trailer -- day three
Topic: Trailer
Today was a very good day.

The big highlight happened in the morning. Rob and Mark got to use a Jimmy Jib for the first time. A jib is a long metal arm with weights on one end, a place for the camera at the other, and a motor to move the camera around. It's used for crane shots, among other things. As you move the camera back, you can simultaneously move the camera off the ground and rotate it downward toward whatever you want it to see.

It was used to show the seven kids arriving at the cabin. Although the lodge and office, which are both in the shot, are rather close together, the jib allowed it to look like a wide open, desolate area. The effect is amazing. It was a two hour set up, but it was worth it.

This is when I realized that I can talk to Rob at any time concerning the shots that he's doing. Obviously, I would never second guess him, but when it comes to story and continuity, that's when I need to step up and voice any concerns I have. In this shot, Robin was carrying her bags when they got to the cabin. But in the script, Kevin takes one of them from her. I just wanted to make sure that something wouldn't be filmed later that would match, so I took Rob aside. He agreed that it was a concern, but since there would not be a continuity problem for the trailer, it would be fine that way. Which I completely agreed with.

I also got to meet Neil, who plays Ronnie in the trailer. He's a huge Joss Whedon fan, so I instantly got along with him. He asked me about Ronnie's background, which I thought was cool for such a small part.

When he filmed Ronnie's scene, we used the Steadicam which, once again, was an amazing feat. Cedric was surely in pain after a while, but he just smiled through it to get the shot. And Neil added his own little take to the ending of the scene which was better than what I had written. Damn it.

We filmed a quick scene at a phone booth, which provided some comic relief. Not the scene itself ... but the convoy of cars that kept driving down the road as we tried to shoot. It never failed ... every time we would be ready to roll, a car would approach (no blocking of the streets today). At one point, I think about fifteen cars went by at once.

The last shots were at the cabin. David, having been stabbed, stumbles out of the cabin and tells Casey to run. It differs from what will be in the feature, but the effect works. David takes a tumble and Casey runs. More Steadicam, and as the camera was pulled away to follow Casey, the cabin seemed to move backwards at the same time. It was a great effect, one that Mark attributed to HD and the scope we were using. At least, I think those were the reasons. I was taking in so much information throughout the weekend that it's hard to remember all of it.

Being on location is cool because it really gets you thinking. For example, based on what I saw of the lodge this time around, I plan on rewriting part of the script to have Casey accidentally fall through a railing on the porch.

AFTERMATH

Half over. Boy, it sure has been fun.

I talked to Rob for about an hour and a half as everyone else busted their butts to gather up everything. We talked about what he was happy with and what he wasn't so happy with. We talked about the various happenings throughout the weekend ... how much we loved doing this ... future projects ... and how comfortable we are doing this.

We didn't have to take the big equipment home, but I helped them pack their SUV, so Rob, Barb, and I were the last to leave. Although we had wrapped at around 9pm, I got home at 2:30am and talked to Jasmine about the weekend until after 4am.

Then I slept. Hard.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 12:01 AM PST
Saturday, 5 November 2005
Trailer -- day two
Topic: Trailer

THE SHOOT

Today was an interesting, fun filled day.

It started with me waking up in the actress' cabin. Four actresses in the same room with a male writer can only equal one thing ... a good night's sleep for all.

Well, as good as I could get in less than four hours. And I woke up pretty damn cold, since all my stuff was in another cabin. But I did get to see a girl in only a towel, which has the unique effect of warming up just about anyone.

But enough fun ... we had work to do.

Our big scene for today was the opening of the script, where a girl is being chased by the killer. Our actress, Ellie (victim/Steph), was more than ready to don ripped clothes and be splattered with blood. She really seemed to be enjoying herself. And she learned not to lick her lips, lest she get a nasty taste in her mouth.

We went down the road from the cabins and spent about an hour or so getting everything set up (BTW, when I say *I*, that usually consists of everyone else on the crew, because I mainly talked to various people and watched the monitor as much as I could). Although I was a kind of pseudo Script Supervisor, the trailer didn't really need one.

That's when we ran into a bit of a snag. Two guys showed up and one of them told us that we couldn't shoot there because it was his property. Barb explained that she and the Inland Empire Film Commission had tried to locate this guy for two weeks to secure permission. If only the IEFC had thought about placing a camera next to a tree for a couple hours ... that seemed to get the guy running.

Barb ran off to obtain some emergency insurance forms, so we continued preparing to shoot. The guys left. No big deal. But after we got off ONE SHOT, they returned, forced us to walk onto the road, and made us wait. The only thing more dangerous than a dick with no power is a dick with the smallest amount of power, because he'll swing that sucker around like he's John Holmes. Not really sure if that makes sense, but I'm sure you get the jist.

Instead of dealing with the hassle -- and because we didn't want Barb to pop a nerve -- Rob and company moved the set to an area about 20 yards from the cabin, property that we obviously could use.

The result was amazing. Ellie did a fantastic job. She dove onto the ground and crawled across the dirt, despite getting splinters and a temporary rash. This was her first role and she was great.

SIDELINE: I must take time here to focus on our Steadicam operator, Cedric. This was the first time Rob had been able to have Steadicam and the effect is amazing. Cedric gave Starway a fantastic deal on his services and he was indispensible. He made the shots look so effortless. And the rig he was using ... amazing. When a low shot was needed, he simply spun the camera horizontally by 180 degrees and then VERTICALLY by 180 degrees. The results are nothing short of breathtaking.

I helped out as much as possible. The HD camera that we were using included a small wireless monitor that you could walk around with. I held that from time to time, sometimes just carrying it, but often holding it as Rob looked on. It was only standard definition, so it wasn't nearly as good as the Apple cinema display, but it worked.

The next scenes went pretty fast. A few shots of the kids walking away from their broken down SUV. Different angles, some dialogue. We had the roads blocked by two policemen, but we only had them until 1:30pm, and when it came to crunch time, Rob got off a series of shots very quickly ... back to position, rolling, action, cut, change angle, give direction, rolling, action, cut. And we made lunch. Great job, Rob. Cast. And crew.

It was after this first part of the day that I got my first lesson in set etiquette. One of the most important things is never to leave set without informing someone in the know. If actors or crew go missing, it could spell big trouble, especially in the middle of nowhere. But when one of the actors asked if I'd like to walk to the general store, I jumped at the chance. We weren't shooting anything else until the sun went down, which was about two hours away. Besides, the general store was "right down the road."

Yeah ... 20 minutes right down the road.

So Barb was not happy. When we returned, everything was fine ... no one knew we had been gone, but when it got back to Barb, it had to be dealt with. I was the first. Later, she would tell Andrew (David) that she felt as if she'd taken it all out on me, but I never felt that way at all. In fact, she eased my guilt by explaining that it was understandable that I wouldn't know much about set etiquette. I apologized, she accepted, and Andrew ended up taking full responsibility. But I should have known better. Barb handled it very professionally and was 100% in the right. I believe that she thought she was being an ogre, but she was extremely nice (yet firm) about it. James Cameron would have buried all of us up to our necks to make sure it didn't happen again.

This is where my role is quite unique. I teeter between the actors and crew. Rob and his crew are in a bubble around the set when they're working. Beyond this bubble, there is a whole other world going on, whether it's on the production side with Barb or the acting side with its various happenings. Sometimes, it is hard to make that transition from the outside to the inside, because I don't want to get in the way. But once I'm there, I'm in for good.

While we were waiting to shoot, I hung out with a few of the actors and actresses. I've always heard that women can be much cruder than men, and boy, that is damn accurate. The stars of this were Alexis (Robin) and Ellie (victim/Steph). Alexis has no filter ... she will say anything she's thinking if she's comfortable around someone. It's part of her charm, and her wickedly beautiful smile automatically eases any uncomfortableness the receiver of such comments might feel. Ellie seems truly like the girl next door. Easy to talk to, sweet as pie ... but she's got a streak of crudeness, too. And don't get me wrong ... this is not a bad thing at all.

Andrew tried to tell a joke, but kept stopping because the women would show up. We never did get to hear the joke. He almost made it through the whole thing once, I think, but we never got to hear the punchline. But he did make it up later with a great story (more on that later).

Okay, back to filming...

Rob filmed Jared (Kevin) and Johnny (Casey) running away from The Terror. At one point, Johnny was so adamant about doing a good job that he fell and hit his face on a rock. Just a scratch and he got right back up again. I wasn't involved at all because they were shooting on a narrow road, with Rob sitting in the back of a truck driving away from them. So I helped Andrew keep an eye out on a couple of generators, the sparks of which can, in theory, catch something on fire. When I would see Rob next, he would tell me that I had missed his first meltdown, which really just consisted of too much noise while he was trying to shoot. But when he yelled "QUIET!," even the crickets stopped rubbing their legs.

While I was helping Andrew, I got the question again ... what was it like seeing my words being made into scenes for the first time? And again, I wasn't ecstatic ... but that's when it hit me.

It felt natural. It honestly felt like this had happened a thousand times. Like I had been on set before and that this was just another day of my life. So although it's a huge deal, it felt comfortable (as Rob said later) ... just as natural for me as it was for Rob being behind that camera.

Then I was asked if it felt strange that someone else is interpreting my work. I hadn't given it much thought ... I'm the writer, Rob is the director. This, too, dawned on me suddenly. Rob has given me every confidence in myself as a writer when it comes to creating something that he will enjoy. When questioned if he felt okay with reading the second draft for the first time during our table read, he had said that he was okay with it because he trusted me. So, in turn, I trusted him as a director to bring the vision to life. Although it might not always have been the same as what I had envisioned, he was either spot on or damn close. So I honestly never really thought about it, because I trusted him as much as he trusted me.

We ended up running ahead of schedule, so we were able to shoot the other Kevin and Robin scene. Again, both did a great job. A lot of intensity and it should be great for their reel.

AFTERMATH

We ended just after 9pm, our wrap time, so we were right on schedule as of the second day. I hung out with Rob and Barb for a while, then had to walk -- by myself -- to one of the far cabins to get my blanket. That walk was creepy ... just me and a flashlight ... and a noise in the bushes with every step. As it turned out, everyone was asleep so I had to head back to the actors' cabin. This time, there was room because one of them had (platonically) shacked up with the girls, so I slept there.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 12:01 AM PST
Friday, 4 November 2005
Trailer -- day one
Topic: Trailer

THE SHOOT

No matter what industry you're in, first days never go as planned, and this was no exception. Here you have a team of people who can't wait to get this thing going and ... well, we were a tad late.

There wasn't any one factor, just a collection of little things transformed into one big fact ... we were running very late. Things like ... I had to stop by Target for warm clothes ... I needed to get Jasmine some money before I left ... the paperwork for the camera wasn't exactly in order, despite Barb's tenacity at making sure everything was in line ... we needed to eat lunch. Stuff like that. Nothing big.

While Rob and Mark headed up to the cabin to start getting set up, Barb and I went to Castex to pick up equipment. The plan was to reach the cabins by 4pm. We arrived at Castex at 4:30pm. Ugh.

Everything else leading up to the cabins was rather mundane. We packed generators, tables, chairs, and other various equipment into our two (small) trucks. The drive on the I-10 was slow and boring. Barb and I texted each other back and forth concerning the horrible drivers and how I almost got into an accident when a car zipped into my lane just as I started getting over.

Welcome to L.A.

After a quick stop at the Oaks Restaurant, we arrived at the cabins. In all honesty, I wanted to jump out and run as fast as I could to wherever the hell Rob was shooting. But I had to control myself ... Barb needed help. And I didn't have a flashlight.

Yes, flashlight ... we had arrived at around 8:30pm.

Luckily for me, Rob was just about to shoot his first scene, one that called for a scantily clad actor and actress. It wasn't a sex scene, but the environment was still very sterile. Not to mention rather cold. Actually, very cold.

As I sat there on the bed watching my words and actions play out on screen, I felt ... nothing. Honestly. It was very strange. Sure, I was excited, but I didn't feel the way that I thought I should. Why the heck didn't I feel much about it?

The shoot went very smoothly. I got to watch Rob work. I got to watch Barb work. I got to watch Mark work. And the twenty or so other people that were busting their asses to give Rob what he wanted.

We filmed two scenes -- one with David & Laura, the other with Kevin & Robin. The latter was more difficult, because it was a very intense scene to do on your first night. But the actors and actresses pulled off both scenes with gusto. One scene with Kevin & Robin didn't get done, so we're hoping to catch up tomorrow.

Wrap was supposed to happen at Midnight. We ended at around 3:00am. And our call time for tomorrow is still 8:00am.

AFTERMATH

We had a very short production meeting. Rob was disappointed with being behind schedule, but even that couldn't quash his excitement.

And where did I sleep that night? The actors wanted to sleep one to a bed (or air bed), so I ended up sleeping in the actress' cabin.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Friday, 18 November 2005 12:24 AM PST
Saturday, 3 September 2005
The Good, the Bad, and the ... Weird
Topic: Pre-production
The Good -- I'm getting paid for my script in about 2-3 weeks.

The Bad -- We will NOT be making our film in October.

The Weird -- Instead, we will be producing three movie trailers, one for each of three different films.

Confused yet?

Rob had a meeting tonight with "money dude." We were hoping that this would be the night where the allotments of money for the film would be finalized. Instead, it seems that the money dude was so impressed by both the script and Rob's reel that he wants us to produce a series of three movie trailers to show investors. Those three trailers will consist of Shadow Falls, The Twenty-Third Letter, and an as-yet-undecided third movie. My own scripts, Forgotten and Atonement (both of which would need to undergo a name change) will be contendors.

While this is an obvious set back, the pay off could be huge. We're being given a nice sum (I won't be specific here, but it's VERY nice) to produce the three trailers so the sky's the limit on what we can do ... well, okay, maybe not the sky ... but at least a very high ceiling. Once the first trailer (Shadow Falls) is completed, which will happen in October, it will be shopped around to investors while we start on the next trailer. The money dude is looking for Shadow Falls to have a budget of $750,000 instead of $325,000 ... so we would have much more to work with. And once the first film is in production, the others could fall into place as investors decide to jump on the bandwagon.

The reason for the trailers is simple ... it is a fantastic way for the investors to really see what we're going for. Plus, it gives Starway Pictures the appearance of a serious production company. It's all about appearances ... and the better our presentation, the more likely that our first film will not be our only film.

Still kinda sucks, though.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005 8:43 AM PST
Monday, 25 July 2005
Correction
Topic: Pre-production
Our budget will actually be $325,000.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 4:39 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005 8:45 AM PST
Saturday, 23 July 2005
It's official ... we're filmmakers!!!!!
Topic: Pre-production
Rob's text arrived at 11:30 tonight: "We have a deal. We're making a movie."

No exact details, but it appears that Rob's business meeting went off without a hitch. He was armed with a business plan and a copy of our script ... and got approved for a $300,000 budget.

I could not be more excited.

Posted by blackroosterfilms at 11:47 PM PDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005 8:46 AM PST

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