Friday, February 10, 2006

A Geocaching Trial

Sometime during the script writing process and trying to find locations, we decided that we should try to find a geocache for the experience and to better understand how it works. From what I read online on and in various articles, it seemed like a very cool activity, but trying something out is probably the best way to understand what it's all about. So while we were scouting some locations, we pulled up a couple geocaching options in the area where we'd be. We picked the easiest level since we were brand new to the whole thing and started at a small park in Santaquin. We struggled to figure out the clues and discovered that the clue led us to a monument with some writing on it that we were suppose to email back to the person who set it up and then get another clue that would lead us to the cache. Well, that was a litte too complicated for our first one and didn't work for trying to do it that day. So we decided to forget about that one and moved on to another geocache.

The second one wasn't too far from the first one we tried. We followed the coordinates and found the general area pretty easily. But then it came time to find the cache. We looked around for a few minutes and then decided to look at the clue to help us find it easier. The clue led us to where the sidewalk ended. At the end of the sidewalk there was a big gap between the concrete and the ground. In that space there was a tupperware, so we pulled it out and looked inside and found several toys and action figures that others had left before. It was actually pretty cool to be able to find something that someone we didn't know left behind, even if it was more for children.

So now I had at least participated in a geocache and it really did help to understand it better and helped later on when I had to explain it to the actors and direct them in what to do. I don't know if everything in the movie is absolutely accurate, but hopefully it's convincing enough where it needs to be and others will be forgiving where it goes astray.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Small Crew and Technical Stuff

Since we had a very limited budget to do this movie, I had to make some decisions about the camera, crew, etc. that would work within out budget and schedule. I wanted to keep the crew very small so we could move quickly without all the drama that sometimes comes with larger crews. I might have been a bit crazy, but I decided to do this movie with a crew of 3 people: I would produce, direct and shoot the movie, Brittany would be the writer, producer, makeup, wardrobe, and sound person, Steve would be the other writer, producer, and art person. We would all be stretched thin, but I like a challenge and from what I was planning out, I felt it would work. This would require a lot of planning up front to make sure that when we started shooting the movie, we would only have to worry about the acting, shooting it correctly, and making sure the sound was good. Once a few other people found out about this project they volunteered to help out, but I declined their kind help since I wanted to keep this project small and under the radar. One thing about the film industry is that there is a grape vine that travels extremely fast, and I wanted to be able to do this show without worrying about what the whole industry would think - so keeping the crew this tiny was ambitious, but it's what I felt comfortable with for the constraints of this show.

Since I was going to operate the camera, I had to have something that was simple enough for me to use while capturing a high enough quality for the film to meet the technical requirements of distributors. After doing some research, I decided to shoot the movie with Sony's HVR-Z1U camera since it was fairly small, had dual XLR inputs, and seemed to be simple enough for me to operate with my limited knowledge of cinematography. For sound, we got a shotgun mic and boom pole as well as a wireless mic that would plug into the camera to ensure we got decent sound. I had built a steadicam a couple years ago that fit this camera, and since it's suppose to be a fast paced adventure film, I felt the constant movement in shots would work well.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Rounding Out the Cast

I probably did this in the wrong order, but after I finished casting the three main roles, I let an international distributor I've worked with read the script and give me some feedback and advice. He liked the script and gave the advice of casting actors that have been in other shows - this would give the movie more credibility and make it easier for him to sell to his buyers. The problem is that I'd already cast the main parts and didn't really have the money to hire recognizable faces and have to deal with SAG on such a small show. So I decided to cast the larger supporting roles with some actors that had done some other shows. Since I really didn't know many actors with experience that would work for what I needed, I started watching movies that I knew had been produced locally to see what actors may be around. I found an actress, Lillith Fields, that was in Urban Legends: Bloody Mary and tracked her down through some crew members I knew that worked on that show. We got a hold of her and sent her a script and she agreed to play the part of Jamie, the girl that gets kidnapped in the movie. She was actually living in California at the time, but was willing to come to town to film her parts.

I decided to cast one more person in a supporting role that had been in other movies, so I called up a friend, Chris Kendrick, that I had worked with before and offered him the role of Tom, the next door neighbor. It wasn't a big role, but I figured as long as I could put his name on the cast list with the credits of his other films, it would hopefully help. I also thought he fit the role really well, so I was glad to have him on board.

Now that I had cast all the roles in the movie, it was time to lock down locations and make sure the technical side and the equipment was ready to go.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Finding the Cast

Now that we had a draft of the script, it came time to finding a cast. One thing that has always been a painful process for me with filmmaking is holding casting auditions. Although it's a relief to find the good actors, you usually have to weed through a lot of people that either want to be actors or think they are actors (think American Idol and you'll get the picture). We wanted to shoot the movie before the end of the summer since the script called for it and also to fit it into my schedule, so we decided to have limited auditions, inviting actors we knew to come and audition and having an open call to a limited number of people. Since the script was an adventure film that would go all over the state with a very small crew and luxuries, I wanted to make sure our actors were team players, willing to help out with anything when needed. So in addition to finding actors that could act and willing to work for very little money, they had to be good to work with - no divas would work on this show.

We had several actors show up for the auditions and overall the experience was pretty good. There were still several that couldn't act, although they did provide some nice entertainment. At the end of the audition we had our main guy, Kyle, and narrowed down the roles of Allyson and Trevor to 2 people each. We had call backs a few days later and were able to finish casting our main roles. As it turned out, 2 of the 3 main actors were crew members I had worked with on other projects, so they were excited to have a chance to show their acting skills and I was glad that they had some film experience and knew how things worked. Below are the actors we cast for the leads:

Saturday, January 28, 2006

How It Started

So how did this process begin? I had a short break between projects and wanted to try my hand at directing a feature film, so my sister, Brittany, who I also work with, came to me with an idea. She has a friend who's into the new sport/hobby of geocaching and she told me what geocaching was. Geocaching is a hobby where people get GPS coordinates online and then follow them to a location where a cache or container is hidden. When they find the cache they are suppose to take whatever's in the cache and leave something behind for the next person. For more information about it, you can go to the most popular site at I liked the idea of incorporating this hobby into a movie, so we started brainstorming and came up with a story. Brittany took it from there and started writing the script. We wanted to be able to make this movie with a small cast to make it easier to find the actors we'd need, so we made sure the number of cast members was kept to a small number.

I didn't just want to make a movie that had people sitting in a room and talking. I wanted to do something that had great visuals to help the movie have a bigger feel, and since we decided to do a movie with geocaching as a central component, that made it possible to make it visually interesting. I talked to a friend of mine, Steve Lee, and told him about the idea for this movie that we were calling Caching Out (we've since renamed it Tracker, which I like better). I've worked with Steve over the last few years and he has a lot of experience in screenwriting, art design, producing, and knowing good locations.

So Brittany, Steve, and I made a list of possible locations and then drove throughout the state to visit them. We visited each location and came up with story ideas that would fit. We pretty much outlined each scene and story point as we visited Bridal Veil Falls, Goblin Valley, the Arsenic Mines, etc. After we came up with what would happen in each place, Brittany and Steve started writing. Since I'm not much of a writer, they did the writing and then I'd meet with them to tweak each scene. The script actually came together pretty quickly and within a few weeks we had a first draft ready.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Making A Movie

I've worked in the film industry for several years now working as a producer, production manager, and assistant director. I've learned a lot as I've worked with different people, and I got to the point where I wanted to direct my own movie. The challenge in doing this was working with a limited budget and keeping things under control while trying to make an exciting and entertaining movie that people would actually enjoy. I didn't want to produce a movie that I'd only show to my friends and family, but a movie that could still go out and have an audience, whether it be on TV, DVD, or even an international audience. The process was a busy one and will take more than a few minutes to explain (especially as it's still going on), so over the next little while I'll try to explain what I've done and how it was accomplished. I hope readers enjoy. I'm new to this blogging process, so please be forgiving.