To Be Continued

Posted in Filmmaking, Pre-Production, Production with tags , , , , , , on September 3, 2011 by Richard Diaz

It has taken much thought and with a very heavy heart I came to the conclusion that the best thing for the film is to push it back. There are a multitude of reasons why but the fact is the film needs to be pushed back until summer of 2012.

The script needs to be honed in. It is way too large in scope for such a low budget. I guess I got a little too over zealous and ambitious. This is more of a plus than a minus although I will miss the epic feel of it. But I think the tighter story structure will lend itself to a much better film. Especially under these constraints.

Another plus is that the film may also be shot on a RED camera. For those of you that don’t know the RED line of digital cameras are among the best being used today to make films. So the quality will be greater. I will be going from HD to almost the resolution of 35mm film. That alone would have been worth waiting for.

The reasons are valid as to why I made the decision to push back. I won’t lie and say it hasn’t been emotional because it has been. I spent a year of my life getting the film together only to have to decide to wait another year. For people who don’t make films it might be hard to understand how much you do invest of yourself. And there was so much that went on that I never told anyone about. The amount of work and sacrifice. And while it took time to come to this conclusion I stand by it firmly. At the end of the day you want to make the best film you can. And unfortauntely it means for this one that I need to push back a little further to see it happen.

Does that mean nothing will happen for a year? Quite the opposite. There will be blog posts about the script updates, location scouting, possibly some recasting if unfortunately some of the actors can no longer commit to the project. Which I completely understand. The film is not closing down. It is just reentering Pre-Production.

A delay has occurred but that is all. I love this film and have no intentions of letting it go. There is no reason to. A little retooling and some different approaches combined with a new camera make for a much more visceral and exciting film. Not a negative in the slightest. But in this business image is everything and the fear of being seen as a flake is one I needed to consider as well. But what is worse? People thinking you didn’t make the film you set out to make when you thought you would or making a film that doesn’t work because all of the pieces were not there? Despite my own ego the film is what counts. It’s what will be around long after I am gone.

The journey to make ‘Dark Light’ is not over. Not even close It is just beginning.

To be continued …

A Few More Stills

Posted in Production with tags , , , on August 8, 2011 by Richard Diaz

Sorry for the lack of updates lately but shooting was delayed slightly but is continuing and updates are coming. In the meantime, here are a few more stills from some of the stuff shot already.

*These stills, while color corrected slightly, do not represent the final image. All images are ┬ęCopyright 2011. All rights reserved.

Day One

Posted in Production with tags , on July 11, 2011 by Richard Diaz

Sean and Priscilla get ready to shoot the first scene.

Day one of production has finally happened after all of this time. Priscilla was kind enough to let us shoot at her place. So I showed up with my gear and Sean, Priscilla, and I prepped and shot two scenes for the film. I haven’t shot anything dramatic in awhile so I found it both challenging and exciting. I have been doing work shoots for so long that it was nice to no longer think along those lines. I could obstruct lights and not have things so clean. The hardest thing has been coming up with a look. I know how I want it to look I’m just not completely sure how much to do in camera and how much to do in post production. I don’t want heavily altered footage in post but at the same time I don’t want to be so locked into something because it was shot a certain way. This is something I am still working out.

Sean and Priscilla rehearse.

The actors were amazing. You can be sure you have the best actors for your film but until you actually start shooting there is still that measure of doubt. I doubt no more. Both Sean and Priscilla were incredible and I can’t wait for people to see just how good they are. They bring the level of the film up several levels.

Day one is done but there are so many days left to go. The surface hasn’t even been scratched but the start of it was fantastic. Here’s to many more.

A still shot from the footage on the first day of shooting.

*The above still, while color corrected, is not representative of the final look of the film. Property of Widescreen Films Productions. All rights reserved.

Less Than Two Days Until Production

Posted in Pre-Production, Production with tags , , , , on July 7, 2011 by Richard Diaz

It is now less than two days away from the start of the first day of production. It’s hard to believe it is so close. I’m actually getting nervous now. Excited but nervous. I have a lot riding on this film. Even more than I let people know. It’s funny how much you can imagine a film in your head for so long seeing every aspect of it. How the actors are, how the lighting looks, how the camera is. Then as you get close you find it almost hard to think. Like your mind goes blank. Almost like studying for a test and then right before you take it you can’t remember anything. It’s that fear aspect that is so funny in human behavior. I’ve been through this enough where I just know that as long as I’m ready and the gear is prepped I just need to let my instincts take over. All of those thoughts and images are still in my head. They’ll come out once the time is right. Once the number two pencil hits the paper for the test. Unfortunately right now I’m still in the mode right before the test where I can barely remember my name.

One Week To Go

Posted in Pre-Production, Production with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2011 by Richard Diaz

My Panasonic HPX170 camera getting ready to start the madness.

I am now officially less than a week away from starting production on ‘Dark Light’. Hard to believe it has been a year since all of this started. There is much to be done and this film will no doubt be a hard one to make but I think it’ll be the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s going to really push what I did with ‘Distortion’ in making something with practically no money but having it look like I had a lot of it.

People don’t see a lot of what happens behind the scenes on films. I got asked often when I was going to start shooting. I had people doubt I was even going to. The thing is I was always working on getting the film ready. When you’re just one person then it’s on me to do it. It is the plus and minus thing of being a one man crew. If something needs to get done then if I do it then I know it’s taken care of. But if I can’t do it then it won’t get done. Catch 22 basically. But I was always working on it. And there were so many sleepless nights and hard decisions that I don’t tell people about. Most people are bored by it anyway. It’s the non-glamorous stuff. The nuts and bolts of putting the machine together. People like to see the machine running. They could care less how it was built. So I choose not to bore them with the details. There were times where I doubted myself and stressed over my decisions. I rarely talk about the stress I go through on these films. Whatever I post in these blogs is the extent of what I share. But trust me, there has been much stress. And only ten times more to come. As much as it takes a lot out of me I also strive for it. It’s the other half of the creativity. I create. I stress. I created.

And here I am. Less than a week away. I swore my second film was going to be much simpler than ‘Distortion’. Instead this one is twice as big and three times as complicated. This will be an interesting journey for sure. The key will be to just keep going and always let creativity solve the problem. As long as I’m ready for the challenge this film will not only get made but be something really special.

No More Pre It Is Time For Pro

Posted in Pre-Production, Production with tags , on June 24, 2011 by Richard Diaz

Sorry for the lack of updates but things have been super busy all around. But dates are being confirmed with the first couple of production dates ready to roll. So finally I am moving out of Pre-Production and into Production. Expect a lot of news, updates, pictures, video, and all kinds of stuff.

Time to make a movie!

The Screenplay

Posted in Filmmaking, Pre-Production with tags , , , on May 2, 2011 by Richard Diaz

The finished Dark Light script.

As is everything with this film, and I think with independent filmmaking in general, things are taking a lot longer than originally expected. Although I will say that I think for the better. The delays which occurred before gave me more time to think about the story and the characters. A little bit of space allowed me to be more objective with certain things. Even initial setbacks proved to be almost a blessing in disguise. I think that happens as well if you let yourself go with what happens. If you know upfront that a lot of things won’t happen the way you want them to but give yourself a creative out then you’ll be surprised. Sometimes compromises will be made. It goes with the territory. But then there will be those moments when your creative solution to a problem ends up working to your benefit in the long run.

One thing I was worried about though from the beginning has been the length. When making an independent film especially one that is considered micro budget (or even no budget in some circles) you want to watch your running time. The longer the film the less likely a festival will want it. The more taxing it can be on an audience. Festival audiences can get restless after a certain time period because the atmosphere of a film festival is different than a normal movie theatre. You are there to see several different types of films from so many different filmmakers. In some ways making a short film that is 10 minutes or less is ideal for this. When you start getting into the feature film area then you are really asking a lot of a festival audience. A person going to see a specific film will commit to watching it in the theatre. A festival goer is committed to the festival overall and not a specific film. If they don’t like your film they mind as well go out into the lobby and return when it’s over. The longer the film the more this can actually hurt you.

My first film ‘Distortion’ has a running time of 91 minutes which is even pushing it a little. Especially for a horror film on the no budget market. ‘Dark Light’ is an action film by and large and that falls into the same genre boundaries. The original script for ‘Dark Light’ clocked in at 110 pages. With an action film you sometimes describe things minimally. You flesh out the main action but by and large a few lines of description can mean a minute or two of screen time. So I was looking at a possible two hour film. Too long for my main target audience. So I was able to combine scenes, take some out, and eventually got things down to a final count of 100 pages. However, with short descriptions of action I may still be looking at a run time of an hour and forty-five minutes. This is where my artistic ego steps in and says that I am not cutting anymore because I start taking out the character moments which I refuse to do. I made the decision to keep the script as is and just shoot it. Then in the edit I can see what works and what doesn’t. What is irrelevant and what is important. I will shoot 100 pages but still aim for hopefully an end running time of 95 minutes gives or take. But I’ll worry about that in editing. For now the script stands at 100 pages.

The final page count is 100 pages.

It’s hard to tell how many drafts there were. I never know what constitutes a draft to be honest. I know screenwriters who if they change a line they consider that a draft. I usually estimate that if you work on more than a quarter of the script then it can constitute a new draft. Otherwise it’s just tweaks. So all total I’d say there were maybe four drafts of the script but a whole lot of tweaking.

As I work on the final scheduling to start production I am giving the script one more read through (on paper as opposed to the computer) and then sending it out to the actors. With the weather warming up, the script fully done, and even some new camera gear, it’s time to make a movie.

The final screenplay for Dark Light sitting on my desk.