The process of pre-production began back in August 2002. That was when we made the decision to pursue this story as our next project. The script was tweaked a bit more and by the end of the month we were moving forward by contacting actors to be a part of the project. I really feel that it’s important for me, to have a completed script to be able to present to the actors. It also helps me to get excited about the project, if I feel it has potential. When you’re working with very low budgets, it’s important to really feel like you’re going to work on something that is important to you. And to be as prepared as possible.
I really wanted to put the piece together without having to hold auditions. They can be extremely time consuming and it’s an odd process for all involved. It boils down for us as producers, to have an initial gut reaction to a performer and hope we’re right. For the actors, I’m sure it’s frustrating not knowing what people are expecting or looking for. Unfortunately, it’s the most expedient way to meet actors and see quickly what they can be capable of. We contacted the talented Ms. Natalie Janssen from “Chase: Cut Short” right away and she was excited about working on the project. We were rather ecstatic at the opportunity to be working with her again too. As we searched for our Dave, it became apparent that we’d need to hold auditions for the role. We decided to hold an audition in late October and set the shoot for mid-December. We sifted through literally hundreds of headshots and resumes settling on about twelve to contact. We were able to meet and audition about eight people. We decided to have Natalie join us for the auditions and have her read with each actor. This was extremely important to us, as it was important to not only find someone that we wanted to work with, but someone that Natalie was comfortable with. As I’ve stated in the News Updates, the auditions went smoothly and we had 2 extremely strong candidates. We encountered some scheduling conflicts, which pushed back our shoot to March.
During the downtime, I researched rental houses that would give us a good price and decent equipment. I also tried to decide exactly what we needed. This came down to me not having a clue and just making a good guess. For lighting, we reserved a 4 light kit. I decided that I couldn’t afford to rent a camera, so we contacted some friends and came up with a couple of possibilities. We settled with the SONY VX-2000 because our cameraman was most comfortable with this camera, as he had worked with it in the past. For a short time, I toyed with the idea of having a two-camera shoot. I still think that would’ve been a good experiment, it just didn’t work out. We didn’t really have the room or the crew to make that happen. We assembled our crew during this time also. They were basically recruited from friends, and friends of friends.
By the end of January 2003, we had our Dave and his name was Justin Ipock. We were grateful for him stepping into the role, but at the time, I didn’t realize what a stroke of genius that it really was. We began our rehearsals in earnest in February. This was when the work really piled up for all of us.
We hashed out the script in every rehearsal. Natalie and Justin were encouraged to offer their ideas on the characters. This was a great process. We were really able to flesh out the characters and it helped us all to understand the story more. We also came up with specific blocking that we’d use to keep the piece fluid. I’d encourage any director to place a level of trust in their actors to help bring their characters to life. It really made for a more collaborative process.
The scheduling as always was a nightmare. When you work my insane hours (overnights and weekends), it can be very daunting to make it all work out. We were able to come up with a shooting schedule that everyone could work with. Initially, we had set the shoot up for three days, but it was decided by me, that we could do it in two.
I scheduled a “tech” shoot with the crew. We used the equipment that we’d be using for the shoot and tried to see technically what we were lacking. It was at this time, that Steve Schwarting allowed us access to some extra lighting that proved to be very helpful. We also came up with an initial lighting design and microphone placement.
Our final rehearsal with the actors was videotaped, so I could review it and fine-tune the shot list. I organized a shot list for the shoot, but didn’t storyboard. It would be fantastic to storyboard in some way next time. I think that would’ve been extremely beneficial. Even though, I can’t draw to save my life.
I was feeling pretty confident, although a bit nervous. Some nerves are healthy I think. Now, it was time for the shooting to begin.