We wrapped with Mark Duplass today. We shot his two final scenes and in the morning he's heading for the airport. It's really sad to have him go. So far we have only added people to the movie. This is the first time we're losing someone.
While we were shooting Mark's first scene, Kent and Andrew were at the office location getting things in order. Today was our first day at the office, and we wanted it to look great.
Kris, Ivan, and Tipper came out to play office workers in the scene and they were all great. Kris and Tipper got to have a quick scene with Mark, but Ivan's role was pretty thankless. Hopefully we can find more for him to do.
We wanted to do something fun for Mark's last night, so we all went out for burgers and fries after the shoot. Andrew and Greta realized there was a jukebox, so they DJ'ed the last part of the night.
We shot a great scene on the beach this afternoon, then Mark, Greta, Kevin, Tipper, Kris and I went swimming and played some of the best frisbee of my life. It was really easy to make diving catches in the water.
We came home and had dinner and I put the scene together. Everyone watched it and then we headed out into the suburbs to go to Cookie Dough Creations.
Mark had his first Cookie Dough experience tonight. It was great to introduce a new person to the dream. Much ice cream was consumed and enjoyed.
Kevin had to clean the store before we left, so we went outside to play a new game called "Kicked In The Balls." The game is about trying to have the best reaction to being kicked in the balls. I believe Mark won with the reaction below:
Now everyone is playing Breakout because Andrew set a new record. Mark, Kevin, and Kent have vowed to stay awake until they beat it.
Tomorrow is Mark's last day of shooting and we have 2 scenes to finish with him. It's a bummer that he has to leave so soon, but he's a busy man.
Greta and I got Andrew from the airport yesterday morning and brought him back to the movie house. Being a vegetarian, he immediately started eating grass and other green things.
Kevin made a delicious salad, and we introduced Andrew to "Breakout," the game that has occupied our lives for the past few days. We created a score sheet and Andrew has slowly been creeping up it.
We all went over to the office location to figure out how we should dress the set, and Kent entertained us with stories of Paris Hilton.
Andrew and Kevin started talking about Rock 'n' Roll McDonalds so we all decided to head over there for french fries. It was creepy and none of us really liked it, but we had to order some food to get our parking validated.
The grocery store was the next stop, to pick up party supplies. We were shooting a party scene at Kris's apartment, which is serving as Andrew's (Paul's) in the movie. We needed beer, chips, and dip. Mission Accomplished.
The scene was great. Everyone was hilarious. It was hot as hell though, and we were happy to be finished. Greta practically melted away, and she fell asleep on the sidewalk outside of the apartment afterward.
We have to pick up office supplies and shoot a beach scene today.
No pictures from today's shoot, because it was a closed set. Well, not really. We just forgot to take blog pictures. We shot with Mark and Greta for a bit, and then we threw Ry into the mix and the scene turned out great. It was a lot of fun. I couldn't help but feel strange framing Mark up and watching him on the monitor. I felt like I was watching a Duplass Bros. movie. I love Duplass Bros. movies, so it was great, but it will take some getting used to.
I had to run a lot of errands today, which was stressful. As soon as we finished the scene I was out the door taking care of locations and other things. I picked Kris up on the way and she joined everyone for dinner. Kevin made another delicious meal, and we all sat around eating and enjoying.
After dinner Kent VJ'ed the evening and we all watched great videos he had collected from his friend Charlie. Some of the videos were things we had seen on the internet before, but some were brand new. My mind was blown a few times.
We took the day off, because starting tomorrow we are going to enter heavy production for the rest of the time. It was nice and relaxing. I spent a lot of time talking with Greta and getting on the same page. It was good, and we needed it.
We all went out for dinner at a place that Kris recommended called "Feed," and it was really good. It was our first full family dinner in a while, and it made me realize how much fun we all have together.
After dinner I headed over to the airport to get Mark Duplass. We came back to place and spent the rest of the night playing Atari games on this machine that Kris bought us as a present.
I'm totally psyched about shooting with Mark tomorrow. I have wanted to work with him ever since I saw THE PUFFY CHAIR and I'm so excited that tomorrow I will get that chance.
We started the day off with a trip to the post office. Then Kent, Ry, and I swung by the office location to check it out. I wanted Kent to start getting some ideas about how to lay it out and what to put in the space.
We shot a scene in the late afternoon with trumpets. It was funny. They were loud.
Tipper came over for dinner tonight and after we ate we had band practice. We just started a band the other day called "The Ice Cream Floats" and we already have 4 songs. We wrote 3 of them tonight.
I'm trying to stay on top of the footage. It really helps to piece the movie together when I know what I have so far and what I still need. The addition of Mark Duplass and Andrew Bujalski later this week will really mix things up, and I want to make sure I know exactly what to do with them while they are here. I talked to Mark on the phone tonight, and Bujalski's back in the counrty after some crazy European travels. I'm very excited for them to arrive.
I don't quite know what to make of today. It was strange. Everyone agrees. We shot a great scene, but something changed in the atmosphere that I'm not entirely comfortable with. In many ways, it's the best and worst day yet.
We spent a lot of time today trying to make Kent look hot and sweaty. A week ago he would have been sweating buckets naturally, but the weather got really nice, and now we're faking it.
We got a nice sequence with Kent's character, Matt, trying to cool off.
Greta gets back tonight, so we wanted to do some shopping and get the place ready for her return. Over the course of the week, we pretty much devoured everything edible in the place.
We're now fully stocked again, and ready for the coming week. It's been really fun to eat together and have Kevin cook us meals. It's better than going out to eat. Meal time is definitely one of the things I'm going to miss the most when the movie's finished.
I got a nice surpise today when Kent bought the New York Times and I accidentally stumbled upon an article that I had done an interview for about a month ago. I had forgotten about it, and I was reading the article, and suddenly I was reading my name and they were talking about YOUNG AMERICAN BODIES, the show Kris and I are doing for Nervevideo.com. It was a surreal experience. Kent and Kevin were both really excited, and told me that the NY Times is a big deal and lots of people would read the article. That's exciting. Here a link to the online version of the article.
We spent most of the afternoon turning my apartment into Matt's apartment. Matt is the character that Kent plays in the film. I'm moving out of the place shortly after we finish shooting, so it was kind of nice to get a lot of stuff packaged up, but it also reminded me how much of a pain moving is.
Ry took a break out in my yard and read her book. She's not slacking. She offered to help but there wasn't much for her to do.
Once we had everything in place, we went over to Swim Cafe, our favorite hang-out spot, and grabbed some food. Tipper Newton, from LOL, joined us and we're all hanging out and planing to watch movies tonight.
Today was one of the only real "days off" we're going to have for the film, so we're enjoying it.
We all woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of thunder and lightning. The house was rocking from a really big storm, and Kent noticed water coming in through the windows. He snuck into Greta's room to close her window, and she woke up to the sight of him standing there in his underwear. We all had a good laugh in the morning.
We got off to a late start today, so we all went out for brunch. It was great to spend the afternoon hanging out and talking. Greta was looking for a particular CD as a gift for someone, so we drove all over town trying to find it. We didn't. But Kent found an electronic picture frame that displays digital pictures in a slideshow, so we played with that when we got home.
We all tried to watch several movies, but we kept having DVD player problems, so I went with Kris and Kent to Target and bought a new one. I needed one anyway. By the time I got home, nobody wanted to watch a movie. Instead we shot another scene. We didn't have an solid ideas, but we just started rolling and it turned out totally great. I'm in awe of Greta and Ry and the way they play off of each other. It's magic. Throw Kent Osborne into the mix and it's a recipe for awkward comic gold. I'm really thrilled with how all of the scenes are turning out.
I'm managing to stay on top of the footage and edit a lot of it as we shoot. Working with the HD technology has been really great. The images are some of the best that I've ever shot and getting it into Final Cut is a breeze. I'm totally sold on the new workflow. This Panasonic camera with P2 cards and a P2 store is really great. This is definitely now my favorite way to make movies. The same goes for having a lot of cool people in a house together. It's a dream.
Today was a day of dancing. Shortly after waking up, there was an impromptu dance party in the living room. Kevin put on some Balitmore club beats and people got moving.
I took Kent to the SAG office to pick up his check and then we got some delicious sadwiches from Bari, one of my favorite markets. It hit the spot and got us in the mood to film. It looked like rain was coming, so we hurried outside to grab the scene.
My movies give new meaning to "low-fi." The picture above should give you a good idea of how small my productions are. Two actors, Kevin holding a microphone, and me directing and shooting. Having more people around would only complicate things. The scene turned out great. I spent most of the evening editing it.
The day ended with one more dance party, this one for the movie. Greta and Ry were intense, and we all watched the footage afterward. It looked sweaty and great. I'm going to hold off on cutting it until we shoot the scene that comes before it in the movie. I can feel us starting to put the puzzle together and construct the narrative. It's exciting. Each day will reveal a little more.
Today was a great day. I couldn't be more happy. We all had breakfast together and talked about some ideas for a scene. Ry's character, Rocco, is a musician, so she spent some time practicing her guitar.
It's usually brutally hot here in the apartment, but today it was nice and cool. This was disconcerting, because we were shooting a scene in which it was supposed to be unbearably hot. I sent Greta and Ry out to walk around in the heat and build up a sweat. They ended up getting coffee and disappearing for over an hour. Kent amused Kevin and I while we set up, and when the girls returned, we started shooting the scene.
I was blown away by the performances. Greta and Ry are incredible together and they created an amazing scene between their characters. I'm so thrilled. I can't wait to shoot more with them tomorrow.
Since Kent isn't acting in any of these scenes, he has become the default crew person, but he's doing a great job, even taking additional stills and helping me with the HD monitor. I really love the energy we have going. Everyone is getting along and having fun together, and each day seems exciting and full of possibilities. It's exactly the environment I wanted to create for this film, and I'm so excited that it's a reality.
We shot some footage today, but we spent most of our time getting the apartment ready to go. It was hard to shoot around stuff, so I let Greta and Ry spend some time getting their rooms ready. They went to the Salvation Army and the dollar store and now we're ready to go.
We also had to go get some food. Kevin needed a lot of ingredients for some of the meals he wants to cook, so we hit up some grocery stores. Along the way, a guy was backing out of his parking spot and he totally ran into my car with all of us inside. He wasn't looking, and we all just kind of watched it happen. It left a scrape and dent along the side of my car. It's not a problem, and his insurance will take care of it.
The much bigger accident of the day was the terrible blueberry spill when we got home. Kent was really looking forward to some blueberries, and when we opened the back hatch on my wagon, a bag tipped and fell out, spilling the blueberries out into the street. We all cried.
As I write this, Kevin is in the kitchen hard at work on dinner. We're all tired from the heat, and looking forward to relaxing. We're going to watch MUTUAL APPRECIATION tonight and dream of the day that Andrew arrives.
Our best goes out to Spencer Parsons, who started shooting his first feature today as well. Kick ass!
We kicked the day off with lunch at a Mexican place. The salsa was hot and Kent couldn't take it. Luckily there were banana milkshakes.
After some test shooting, Kent and I went to pick up Greta and Ry from the airport. On the way, we discussed the show that the characters in the movie would be developing. You'll have to wait and see what we came up with. I would totally watch it if it were on TV. I called David Lowery with some questions about development, and I'm sure I'll be hitting him up with some more as the production goes on. I'll give him a "Special Advisor" credit in the film.
We went to dinner and talked about the film. Greta and Ry were on the same flight, and had talked about some ideas for their characters, and I was able to talk with Ry about it even more on our way out to the suburbs after dinner.
Kevin's dad owns an ice cream shop in Naperville, IL called COOKIE DOUGH CREATIONS and we stopped in for an overload of free ice cream. We were joined by my little brother Mike (on the left), Ivan Albertson, and Kris.
Kent Osborne arrived in Chicago today, and he accompanied Kris and I to a bunch of stores as we looked for the last few things to decorate the apartment. At one of the places, we found these really cool cardboard letters, and Kent had the idea to do photos. I left my camera in the car, so he shot them with his phone.
We hung out with our landlord Sylvia and her friends tonight and grilled some sausages for dinner. After we ate we took a trip out to Westmont to borrow some additional equipment from Frank Ross. Kevin was excited to see the house where QUIETLY ON BY was filmed.
Greta and Ry arrive in the afternoon tomorrow, and we have some test shooting planned before that. I'll be so happy to have everyone under one roof tomorrow night. I've been looking forward to this for months now. I'm ready to shoot.
I feel like a kid in a candy store. Today I dropped by the rental house and picked up all of the fancy HD equipment stuff we will be using for the movie. I've had the camera for a few weeks now, but I haven't been able to shoot any HD video with it, because I haven't had the P2 cards. I spent about an hour at Zacuto Rentals making sure I knew how to use the stuff before I took it home for the weekend. My friend Joe Dejulius showed me the ropes and helped me load it up. Steve Weiss and everyone at Zacuto has really been down for the cause and they have given me a lot of help on recent projects, so go support them and rent their stuff!
The workflow is a bit complicated, and sort of terrifying, but after a few hours of messing around, I feel like I have the hang of it. The name of the game with tapeless HD seems to be redundancy. I need to have as many backups of these files as possible, to make sure nothing disappears or gets corrupted. All of the equipment seems a bit touchy, and there are definitely right and wrong ways to do things, so I'll need to read up and make sure I've got it all in order.
For now, I'm just totally blown away by the quality. The footage looks incredible. Even the crap looks nice. I was doing some tests as the sun went down, and I'm really excited about the capabilities of the camera. These are really powerful tools for indie filmmakers. This little camera and these little cards are making me all giddy!
This is a side by side comparison of a portrait of me by Kevin Bewersdorf and recent photograph of me taken on the set of Bryan Poyser's new film, BEST BIRTHDAY EVER. I always thought my eyes were filled with the glazed over look of incomprehension, but Kevin saw deeper, into the true ME.
That drawing is just one of many that Kevin has started to collect on a wall of the apartment. Expect Kent Osborne and Rebecca Romijn to be recurring characters.
When he wasn't drawing, Kevin got copies of the apartment keys made for everyone. I was having to call him on his cell so he could come down and let me in every time I came over.
I did a bit of shopping today to get some things for the apartment. I found this great blue table at Ikea and the red chairs were something the landlord already had. I feel like it's all coming together, and I can't wait to start shooting in this place. It's beginning to look so colorful and nice.
We keep referring to the apartment as "The Movie House," so I assume the name will stick. Kevin moved in today. Of course the first thing we did was make sure the internet was working. He had to call the provider to figure out how to log in to the wireless network. There was an easy solution, so the blogging will continue with no problems during the production.
Then we went shopping to get some food for Kevin and some supplies for the house. I'm going to wait until everyone's here on Sunday to do the main shopping, but we definitely needed some things. Kevin likes to cook his meals from scratch, so he got lots of vegetables and spices.
My goal tomorrow is to finish moving everything into the place, and to get some addition things to dress the apartment. Kevin brought one thing with him to hang on the wall. It's a weird poster he found in Italy. It has traveled with him around the world, and it has exactly the colors I want to use as the main scheme for the movie.
I talked to Bujalski today and decided that it's probably better if he doesn't prepare for the role at all in advance. I would prefer he just show up and we take it from there. We will already have 2 weeks of shooting behind us when he arrives, and so many new ideas will have presented themselves, that I think it will be better to fill him in when he gets here, rather than have him come up with a bunch of ideas that we can't use.
For KOTM and LOL, I had an unlimited amount of time to shoot the films. This time around, I only have a month. It's going to be intense. But for the first time, I won't be working day jobs and doing a lot of other distracting things while I'm shooting. A month seems like an eternity to me. I've never spent that amount of time totally focused on one task. I can't wait for the experience.
I thought about doing some grocery shopping today to get the house stocked for when everyone arrives, but I figured that would be a fun thing to do on Sunday night when everyone gets here. That way people can pick out the food they like. Kevin has volunteered to be the house chef and to cook everyone delicious meals, so dinner will be a treat. He learned some delicious cooking secrets from his host mom when he was living in Italy during college.
I start shooting my new feature, HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS, in one week. For this movie, I had the idea to rent an apartment that all of us could live in together, and also have it serve as Hannah and her roommate, Rocco's, apartment in the film. The search for this apartment has been full of twists and turns, but I finally found a place that is going to be perfect. The landlord, Sylvia, is super cool, and the apartment is totally great.
Greta Gerwig and Ry Russo-Young, who are acting in the film as Hannah and Rocco, arrive in Chicago on Sunday, July 16th. I talked to Kent Osborne today, who will be playing Matt, and he said he might roll into town Saturday. He's been on the road from Los Angeles for the past week, and he still has another week of traveling to go. He's taking his time getting across the country and seeing friends along the way. I believe he'll be in Austin, TX for the next few days if you want to find him. I can't wait for everyone to get here.
Kris and I started moving things in today, and I'll continue to fill the place with stuff until we start shooting next Monday. We have to leave enough room for everyone to live here, but we also have to make it feel full enough to be the apartment of the characters in the film. One of the major perks of this place is a great backyard patio/garden area that we can hang out in this summer. There is a grill for cooking and lots of nice shade trees.
As with my other films, KISSING ON THE MOUTH and LOL, this journal will be way for me to record my thoughts about the film and the process, and also a way for friends and such to keep up with the production.
Please check back, as I will be updating here frequently now.