Film #8: The Shoot

For the month of August, I made a western.  It was incredibly fun and the shoot went really well, but doing a film set in a specific time and place definitely added some new challenges that I hadn’t had to deal with while producing the other films.  There’s a very specific aesthetic that westerns have and I wanted to try and match that in the film.  I had to find things like location, costumes, and props that worked for the story as well as for the time period that the story takes place in.

A couple days before the shoot, my wife and I went driving out east of San Diego to try and find a good location far from telephone wires, houses, cars, noise, and any signs of modernity.  Eventually, we found a spot that worked really well and wasn’t too far off of the beaten path (because I also didn’t want to make my actors hike way out into the middle of nowhere).  That same day, between a couple of thrift stores, some items the actors already had, and a costume rental shop, I was able to get the costumes nailed down.

The morning of the shoot, I swung by a couple places to get the final props I needed to pull the film off: guns.  A friend of mine has an old double-barrel shotgun that fit the look of the film perfect.  He was kind enough to let me borrow it for the shoot.  Then I swung by my friend Brent’s house and picked up some rubber hand-guns.  He’s a prop master in Hollywood and was able to get me some good-looking rubber revolvers to use for the film.  I also was able to use an old wooden chest that my parents had left over from a pirate-themed party we had thrown years ago.  Apparently this chest really did come out west on a wagon many, many years ago.  It worked great for the look of the film.

I got back to my house to meet the actors and prep for the shoot.  My three actors this month include two that I’ve used in other films: Blake (who was in Mystery Box and The Pick-Up) and Fox (who played Sven in Paper Covers Rock); and a new actor: my friend Sam Saavedra.  They got into costume, we went over the day, loaded into a couple of cars and headed east to the location.  When we got there we found the spot where we were going to shoot, got set up and started shooting.

The shoot itself went very well.  Once I got the guys out into the middle of the wilderness, in costume, the whole thing started to come together.  The shots looked beautiful and the guys did a great job with their respective parts.  Although it was a little rushed at the end, we were able to finish the shoot and be back at the house only 10 or 15 minutes past schedule.

One thing that I was really excited about and really added another level to the film is that I was able to get some production blanks for the shotgun, so we were able to fire it for a couple of shots.  I wasn’t sure quite what to expect, but it looked really cool with all sort of smoke coming out of the barrel; but it sounded more like a large cap gun (which was fine as I have a good collection of sound effects and the visual was the more important part of it).

Overall, it went very well and the footage turned out great.  I put some pictures up on Flickr here.

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