The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

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The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Pipitán » Sun May 15, 2011 12:14 pm

This is the first entry in what will hopefully be an interesting journal documenting from start to finish the making of a short film.

* * *

May 15th

Progress thus far:

- 11 page plot outline written
- First draft of script half-written
- Casting near completion
- Locations decided upon
- Locations scouted
- Soundtrack choices coalescing

The Script

The script/story/general blueprint of the film is going well. The 11 page outline was finished a while ago and is steadily being transformed from hastily-scrawled biro on faded lined paper to proper, formatted, script form, whenever I have the time.

Dialogue is a bastard as usual (how much to have? Does it sound real? Is there too much exposition? Why can't I think of anything even vaguely succinct, witty or memorable?), but the action seems to be flowing quite nicely. It's nine pages of proper, formatted, script form so far, and I'm envisioning the first draft running to hopefully no more than 22-23 pages, which I can then (painfully) cut down to 17-18, which I can then shoot and cut down whilst editing to a nice round 15 minute film (before making my first film a couple of years ago, I often read that one page of script = one minute of finished film, and I scoffed at the absurdity of it; such a convenient coincidence surely couldn't work out like that in real life. Turns out I was completely wrong, and, with almost magical consistency, one page of script does tend to = one minute of finished film).

The plot itself is pretty firmly fixed both in my head and on paper; I'm really pleased with some of the twists and the ending, although I might have to tighten up the pacing in future drafts. Christopher Vogler's The Writer's Journey has been very useful in terms of plotting - I've tried to make sure that as many of the characters as possible go through a proper Hero's Journey, although the only character who it seems to be really working for is the villain, which may be something I have to remedy.

My plan at the moment is to have the script finished by the end of June, which factors in a large amount of time to put it to one side and concentrate on the wave of exams that are going to be hitting me throughout May and June (first one tomorrow, wahey!).

Casting

Casting is going exceptionally well, considering how I'm still at least two months from shooting. The two heroes, named Don and Hal, are firmly confirmed as two young, incredibly talented actors who I have no doubt will go on to do great things, and in twenty years, as I sit in my insurance office having completely failed as a filmmaker, my greatest claim to fame will be that I once knew the two people collecting Baftas on the TV. They're very enthusiastic about the project, so, short of an accident or untimely illness, the two heroes are pretty much sorted, casting wise.

The main evil guy, Dylan, is similarly hopefully confirmed and sorted. My main filmic collaborator and close friend is very good at playing obsessive nasty crazy people, and he hasn't let me down yet, having starred in all four of my previous films.

Likewise, the second-in-command villain, code-named Mr Cerulean, is pretty much sorted, with another solid and reliable actor primed for the role.

However, the final two characters, the evil guy's henchmen, codenamed Apricot and Yellow, who have moral doubts about their endeavours half way through and end up semi-defecting, are proving more of a problem. I have about four actors whom I'm considering, but all of them have potentially thorny issues. Actor 1, an all-round nice chap, is a great character actor and comedian, but I'm not sure whether he's up to handling a more serious role, and not just making every scene he's in (including one where he's injured and rolls around screaming for a while) farcical rather than believable and real. Compounding this is the fact that he's incredibly shy and self-effacing, thinks he has no talent and as such has to be coerced into doing anything. It's a nightmare getting him to turn up to rehearsals, and his enthusiasm for a project oscillates wildly - if he just doesn't want to get out of bed on the morning of the shoot, there's a good chance he just won't.

Actor 2 is a good friend of mine who's very enthusiastic about acting and making films, and who is a great improviser, but can't read lines to save his life. I've cast him in previous films because I couldn't bear to say no, but, as they say, a film is only as good as its worst actor, and he does kind of ruin scenes with unbelievably wooden delivery. So I'm very tempted to just cut him out of the project, and just hope he doesn't find out about it. Very tricky.

Actors 3 and 4 are almost even trickier, as they're unknown quantities. They're both people I don't know particularly well and who actually approached me wanting to be in the film, having heard about it. Foolishly, rashly, and very stupidly, rather than being professional and businesslike and just saying come to an audition, don't get your hopes up, I drew them along, saying they might well get a part. They're perfectly nice people, but the problem is I just don't know if they're any good - I've done some rehearsals with one of them, and she seemed okay (and didn't smile all the way through, which is the main thing), but I haven't yet been able to try the other one out, and now that I'm off school and into exams I don't really have any opportunity to do that. And anyway, from just ten minutes, it's impossible to gauge how people will perform on the day, in front of the camera. Another huge risk of using people I don't really know is that I don't know whether they're reliable - I can't be sure that they won't pull out at the last minute, or that they'll forget to learn their lines.

It's a puzzle I'm not sure I've solved yet - at the moment I'm thinking of having Actors 1 and 4 in the film, but I've got a while yet before everything has to be set in stone.

Locations

This stage is going very well; I've decided on and scouted out the main location, the grounds of an English Heritage castle, complete with forest, dry moat, mere and rolling meadows, and it looks to be pretty much perfect. Filming outside is much better than filming inside on a short, no-budget (literally, I have no money at all) film, as it solves the lighting problem. The main risk is that it will rain on the day, but there's nothing much I can do about that.

The scout of the location went well - I've picked the spot where the central sequence will take place, a nice mound next to the castle walls, and now it's much easier to write the script as I can visualise exactly what's going on, and what's happening in relation to the terrain. I've also chosen a route for the chase in the middle of the film, and the climactic final duel; a spindly bridge over the moat at the back of the castle. During the scout I ended up almost drowning in a concealed bog, but overall it was a resounding success.

The Title

I really, really hate coming up with titles, and this film is proving to be no exception. So far I have three that I generally despise, but I can't seem to think of anything else: The Enchilada Elixir, Reservoir Hotdogs, and The Halibut Heist. Hmmn. Of course, I don't have to settle on a title till the very end of editing, so I should be able to come up with something passable.

Next Stages

By the end of June I hope to have the first draft of the script finished, so I can start storyboarding as I write further drafts. I'm planning to film (the shoot will be over one day) near the end of July, at the very latest the beginning of August. Before that though I'll have to sort out and confirm casting, plan all the shots, storyboard extensively (I've failed to this properly in all my other films, so I'm determined that this time it will get done), sort out costumes, props, etc., and sort out borrowing a proper HD camera, tripod and sound equipment from the Wedding/Corporate videos company I did work experience with. I also want to bring in my co-producer, Tom, in the near future, to help with pre-production and organisation. Although I'm a full-on control-freak at heart, it really would be nice to delegate some tasks to someone else and not have to do everything, production wise.

* * *

That ended up being a tad longer and more rambling than I had hoped, but there you go. If you have any questions about the filmmaking process or anything really, feel free to ask.

Do people find this at all interesting, or should I just shut up and stop wasting forum space?
Last edited by Pipitán on Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:48 am, edited 2 times in total.
It’s genius. This story absolutely BLEEDS 40K, start to finish... I freaking loved it.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sun May 15, 2011 12:23 pm

Waste more forum space with this stuff Pip.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Falkenhayn » Sun May 15, 2011 12:37 pm

This ^^

For what it is worth, I say go for the Enchilada Elixir. It has a nice ring to it.

And throw up some pictures if you can/are allowed to!
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sun May 15, 2011 2:14 pm

Well this looks like an interesting project, and I'll be following it, definitely. I'll just hope to see the end result when it's done.

Hey, I can say I like Patrick Brooks before he became a multi-Oscar-Award-Winning (I've used too many hyphens there, I realise) billionaire! Or even before he got cool! Zing!


Also, the Halibut Heist is my favourite title.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Pipitán » Sun May 15, 2011 2:32 pm

Thanks very much for displaying interest, folks!

I should definitely be able to stick up photos, and other things such as storyboards at some point.

And it'll definitely go up on YouTube when it's finished (one of the reasons I'm keeping it to 15 minutes), although I might try and find some competitions to enter (and WIN! Nothing wrong with a bit of optimism) first.

And Mustard, how dare you insinuate that I am not already the pure embodiment of 'cool'?

:?
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Colonel Mustard » Sun May 15, 2011 3:33 pm

Pipitán wrote:Thanks very much for displaying interest, folks!

I should definitely be able to stick up photos, and other things such as storyboards at some point.

And it'll definitely go up on YouTube when it's finished (one of the reasons I'm keeping it to 15 minutes), although I might try and find some competitions to enter (and WIN! Nothing wrong with a bit of optimism) first.

And Mustard, how dare you insinuate that I am not already the pure embodiment of 'cool'?

:?

Er, yeah. You tell yourself that, Pip.


:P ;)
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Mossy Toes » Sun May 15, 2011 6:41 pm

Pip--you're so cool, bits of you are breaking off, like that one fellow in Pirate of the Caribbean.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby BL-Laurie » Tue May 31, 2011 10:00 am

As an erstwhile independent film producer, I'm looking forward to seeing this develop.

I'm actually jealous of you having a project to work on - I haven't made anything for fun since... February last year?
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Pipitán » Tue May 31, 2011 11:23 am

Laurie - You're a film producer? (I suppose the whole 'ShroudFilm' thing might have been a hint...) Are any of films you've done available for viewing on youtube, etc.?

Mossy - missed that last comment for some reason, and the simply answer is yes, yes that would be a perfect analogy to describe my level of 'cool', thank you.

General Update:

Very little progress has been made due to exams, etc., however, I have successfully re-watched the main sources of inspiration for the film, and carefully noted down the moments I will be playfully pastiching and paying homage to (i.e. stealing). These are, in no particular order: Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Incredible Hulk, and... Junior Masterchef.

I've also managed to lock casting (for now...), and although doubtless some tragic accident or sudden holiday will completely screw things up as we get nearer to filming, for now I'm putting casting aside and concentrating on Other Things.

Such as special effects! The script calls for a large number of important-to-the-plot gun shots, and by extension guns. I've recently been able to secure four identical cap pistols for the measly sum of £7.50, and although as bought they're a very intimidating bright blue and orange, I have sprayed them black so from a distance they look pretty real. I've also managed to source 160 rounds of caps, and I've been testing them out, to the general dismay and disapproval of my neighbours, in my back garden. They make a satisfyingly deafening bang, but more importantly (bangs can of course be added in post-production), they give off a healthy puff of smoke and a flash, which is harder to add in in post. However, they aren't very reliable - sometimes you pull the trigger and nothing happens, which would kinda ruin the shot. I'm also contemplating the legalities of having a load of teenagers running around public footpaths waving matt-black pistols and firing loud caps - I'll probably have to let the local police know we're going to be filming, or some neurotic dog walker with a mobile and a penchant for hysterics might end shooting a tad prematurely.
It’s genius. This story absolutely BLEEDS 40K, start to finish... I freaking loved it.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Pipitán » Thu Jun 02, 2011 10:52 pm

The First Setback

Ooh, isn't this exciting? I've been waiting for this.

I've just watched a film in which one of the main conceits of my film (which I had thought up on one long bus journey and, up till now had been exuberantly convinced it was original and had never been done before), is lovingly utilised and explored in a brilliant manner.

Hmmn.
It’s genius. This story absolutely BLEEDS 40K, start to finish... I freaking loved it.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Thu Jun 02, 2011 11:25 pm

This isn't a set back, this is what prompts you to go back in time and make the very film you watched and liked right now under an alias.

Without this film your time travel exploits may never happen.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Pipitán » Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:58 am

schaferwhat‽ wrote:This isn't a set back, this is what prompts you to go back in time and make the very film you watched and liked right now under an alias.

Without this film your time travel exploits may never happen.


If only, Schafe, if only.

Although, as the film was Back to the Future, really all I have to do is go back in time, steal the DeLorean, come back to the future and give it to myself to then use to go back in time and steal it (after making the movie). Simple.

It just means a proper sit down and rewrite, which is annoying, and time consuming, but definitely not likely to sink the entire project. Also, I don't think the conceit was as integral to my film as I first thought - it's not the core premise or anything. So it should be okay.
It’s genius. This story absolutely BLEEDS 40K, start to finish... I freaking loved it.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Pipitán » Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:39 pm

I have just typed the very satisfying words, FADE TO BLACK, which means that the first draft is definitely finished.

Clocking in at just over 15 pages, it's much shorter than I had dreamed I would manage in the first draft (I had thought it would be more like 20), so I'm pretty ecstatic about that.

On the negative side, I am now a couple of weeks over schedule, which means that I've pushed the rough date for filming back a bit to nearer the end, rather than nearer the beginning, of August. This should still give me enough time to do all the rest of preproduction and planning, etc. (and it wasn't until I wrote the quite extensive action sequences that I realised just how much planning this is going to need).

The next stages are to obviously start viciously rewriting the script, start storyboarding, and also, very importantly, as I've left it too late in the past and not had any actors, start working out when people are available and nail down a definite date for the filming. I've also decided that, for the first time, I'm going to try and shoot over two days, rather than the traditional one, and it will just give me a lot more time and breathing space to make sure that every scene has been shot properly, and nothing has to be rushed at the end of the day. However, this will make it harder to get everyone there (I don't want to think about how frustrating it would be if someone just didn't turn up on the second day), and it will also make it harder to keep people motivated and concentrating on the job in hand. I've found that without constant and rather shouty cajoling five or six teenagers are very likely to start rolling around on the floor and playing with props.

The next update should contain some scanned in storyboards for your delectation.
It’s genius. This story absolutely BLEEDS 40K, start to finish... I freaking loved it.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Pipitán » Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:52 pm

Filming the day after tomorrow. Eeeek.
It’s genius. This story absolutely BLEEDS 40K, start to finish... I freaking loved it.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Fri Aug 05, 2011 1:53 am

Pipitán wrote:Filming the day after tomorrow. Eeeek.

ahem

Pipitán wrote:
The next update should contain some scanned in storyboards for your delectation.


the permits got through for the car chase scene OK then?
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Pipitán » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:45 am

schaferwhat‽ wrote:
Pipitán wrote:Filming the day after tomorrow. Eeeek.

ahem

Pipitán wrote:
The next update should contain some scanned in storyboards for your delectation.


the permits got through for the car chase scene OK then?


Sadly, the storyboards didn't really work out. I tried using a computer program for them, but it took so long to do one frame and the options were so limited and generic I gave up. I've got a couple of pages of stickmen ones, but I found that that doesn't really help much either, as they look terrible, are incomprehensible to anyone but me (and sometimes me). Instead, I've just typed up pages and pages of detailed shot lists. And the script is short enough that it's not too hard to remember what you've visualized for each scene.

Car chase? The chase-with-guns I've decided that due to the costumes and the fact that it's quite a little-used forest I won't bother notifying anyone about. In terms of permits, again I've decided it's probably better just not to ask and hope we can complete filming un-accosted..

I've checking the weather obsessively for the last week, and I think it's going to be rainless in my area for both Saturday and Sunday. Fingers most definitely crossed.

Here's some pictures of some props, some equipment, the failed storyboards, a pile of scripts, and the location:

Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:57 am

oooh nice stuff! Hope it works out for you over the weekend :D
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby Pipitán » Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:08 pm

Thank you, Shadowhawk, it... kind of did. Just about.

Saturday - or, Day No. 1

Things started well, in that I didn't oversleep and arrived at location at 8:40. By 9:00, everyone had arrived apart from the lead actor. Finally lead actor arrived at 9:40, and we immediately set about shooting scene 1, on the causeway leading up to the castle. This took... slightly longer than anticipated, due to dogwalkers walking their dogs into shot, the me getting used to the camera, and the actors messing about in an amateurish fashion. By the time we finished scene 1 we were an hour and ten minutes behind schedule.

With cheerful reminders to the cast and crew that it simply meant they wouldn't get a lunch break unless we got back on schedule, we walked down onto the grassy plain where the central hillock was situated and set about shooting scene two. This scene was quite complicated - it involved all the actors, a lot of shouting and gun-waving, and even a fair amount of thrashing, screaming, and liberally applied fake blood (which I had brewed 'specially the night before). Apart from a few mishaps such as the boom being in shot to begin with, me not realising the tape had run out and shooting a long take that didn't get recorded, me not knowing the lead actor had vertigo and promptly leading him up a very steep slope, leaving him there for ages (thinking his claims to have vertigo were him joking) before I got the message and let him come down pale-faced, the scene went quite well, we got some great footage, and just about got back on schedule. Scene 3 went smoothly also, apart from a shot when the actor who was meant to roll corpse-like down a hill didn't stop himself where he was supposed to and crashed into the camera, thankfully to no permanent damage to either of them.

After lunch, we set about the last scene of the day, scene 4. That went okay apart from taking an age to light a barbeque due to the wind, and at 5:00 exactly we wrapped for the day.

I watched the rushes back with my assistant director and lead actor, and it was pretty much so far so good, apart from some boom-in-shot shots.

Sunday - or, Day No. 2

Sunday started fine. We shot some pickup shots, and then set about doing a chase sequence, which went okay apart from when an actress cut her leg badly during a stunt. However, it was during this chase sequence that I made my big mistake - I was working out how much time I would need to shoot the last scenes, and I realised that I could shot the chase sequence for a little bit longer. Fatally, though, I didn't factor in any time for something going wrong and shooting getting held up. Something like... I dunno, rain. Sure enough just after lunch, the sky darkened, the clouds massed, and the rain began to fall. For an hour we huddled over the camera and incredibly expensive-not-mine-I'm-borrowing-it-from-someone-and-would-like-to-return-it-un-rained-upon equipment in the freezing cold, getting soaked. When the sun finally came back out, I did the calculations and realised with a sense of thudding dread that we only had half the time I knew we would need to finish the film.

And so, the hardest, most stressful (not that the previous morning and a day of shooting had been all smiles and daisies) portion of the shoot began, what my Dad's BBC producer friend refers to for unknowable reasons as the 'kick bollock scramble'. We shot at a scarily fast pace, disposing of the tangly boom and cumbersome tripod and shooting all hand-held for speed, and tore through the remaining pages of the script. We got some great stuff - the lead actor did some great evil monster acting, replete with mad maniacal humming, but we just couldn't do as many takes as I would have normally done, and quite a large number of little, not-completely-essential-but-still-damned-useful-when-it-comes-to-editing shots I had to pass by, in favour of making sure the broad strokes of the story were captured. Several more injuries were sustained by the dedicated and self-sacrificial cast during this hell-for-leather period - one actor got thorns "in places he didn't know he had", another received nasty cuts to the cheek, another twisted his wrist rolling down a hill, another cut his leg on a bramble, and so on. The worst oh-my-god-someone's-going-to-get-seriously-injured-and-it'll-be-entirely-my-fault-and-I'll-never-be-allowed-to-make-films-again moment came when we were frantically shooting the climactic fight scene (with ten minutes to go) on a wooden foot bridge over a stream. During the fight one of the actors improvised hanging off the edge of the bridge - it looked great and I asked him if he was okay with doing it again for successive takes - he replied breezily in the affirmative, citing how securely his hand and footholds were. Reassured, I continued with filming. We were doing a close-up of him a-hanging, when his hand slipped and before you could say "Accident lands young filmmaker in jail for fatal neglect" he was dangling by one hand off the last strut of the bridge, with a three metre+ drop down into the stream, screaming for aid. We managed to haul him up, but as hairy moments go, it was decidedly hirsute.

Ten minutes latter, wiping the proverbial brow, I called out "And that's a wrap!", and it was all over. We packed up (making sure to pick up any litter, being the environmentally-minded fiends that we are), and departed location with a tearful wave. Myself, my assistant director and the lead actor watched back the rushes and apart from a distinct lack of coverage for the final scenes, we concluded that things could have been a lot worse, and that shooting had been a success. It was soon after this that the lead actor excused himself from the room to be violently sick in the toilet. This happened several times, and during the car journey to return him, pasty-faced, to his own humble abode I myself was violently sick into a luckily close-by bowl. Although we're not entirely sure, we think his illness was a result of the combination of being forced up a very high steep place with vertigo, working very hard for two days, and during shooting having to on camera eat a tortilla stuffed with bread, ketchup, celery leaves, cumin and probably covered in dirt from having been on the ground. My own vomiting antics I have put down to stress, lack of sleep, and sitting in a car next to someone being violently sick for an unhealthy amount of time. Sympathy vomiting, if you will.

So there you have it - an eventful two days, overall successful, a fun experience and most definitely an extreme learning curve for me as to how to go about (or not go about) shooting even a vaguely ambitious film with more than one moving part, only slightly marred at the very end by violent and repeated vomiting that was very probably my fault.

Next, of course, is arguably the most important stage of all (just like pre-production is the most important stage, and of course shooting is the most important stage), post-production!
It’s genius. This story absolutely BLEEDS 40K, start to finish... I freaking loved it.
- Aaron Dembski-Bowden on my story 'Sating Desire'
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:04 pm

well done Pip, it could've been worse is always the benchmark for success.
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Re: The Exploits of Pipitán: Making a Film

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:12 pm

Sounds maddeningly crazy and fun Pip :) Glad you guys got it done roughly on schedule, even with all the mishaps and all.

Cheers!
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