Awesome T-Jones - looks fucking fab and can't wait to see BOTH projects.
...In the meantime, I've gone to Australia for a 15 day adventure and come back with another "unscripted" road trip film. Tried this once before on a much, much smaller scale with "Colorado" (https://vimeo.com/192293704
) - and for those of you that have watched that, well, it was easily a large departure from the likes of "Apocalypse, CA" or (insert any other movie I've made here). "Australia" is only kinda unscripted. It played out more like one big giant experiment in filmmaking, rather, starting with a simple plot line and taking it day by day.
The plot we set out to make, in its most basic form:
Alex proposes to his girlfriend on the way to the airport in Los Angeles. They're about to embark on a vacation to Australia together... but she says NO, and ditches him before the flight. Alex goes to Australia anyway...
Knowing that much, I first found an actor to play Alex - his name is Tommy O'Brien. Second, we set out a very general plan to get from point A (Melbourne) to point B (Perth) - a 2,123.7 mile journey. From there, we placed a number of casting calls in cities along the way, and ultimately cast out the movie where/when we could with people admittedly naive enough to join our insane adventure. Hannah Lehmann, an Australian actress local to Sydney, flew into Adelaide to join us for the latter half of the film shoot (Adelaide to Perth), and from there we were really able to craft a pretty solid two-character adventure (and not just another one-person drama, like "Colorado"). The end result will probably resemble something along the lines of the "Before Sunrise" films.
Each day went something like this:
Wake up relatively early (but never super early), get coffee, hit the road, film wherever and whatever we needed to film, usually until midnight, actors would sleep and then I'd stay up until 3am writing scenes for the following day. Compounded over two weeks straight, this was all pretty exhausting and some nights I just couldn't keep my eyes open to write even a word. Most of the intense scenes ended up with a script before attempting to film, but there were more than a handful that the actors simply had to figure out on their own, usually while I was racing against the sun, trying to get the shot before losing all light (and hope, with it). Filming on the road was the easiest - usually because the scenes there were transitional, whereas when we'd hit a major city or port, the plot would have to thicken, and scene complexity would follow. Continuity, for a good chunk, was maintained by the actors, because my brain simply couldn't remember everything we'd filmed - what lines were spoke, etc - by the end of our shoot. In one case, the actors finished reading a scene I'd just written, and they looked at me to say, "Chad, it's great, but sixty-percent of this dialogue was in our scene three days ago." That's how exhausted we were by the end. Despite that, I'm still confident we somehow pulled it off, with any repetitive scenes! hah...
The film *should* end up being feature length when it's all done. We've still got the entire Los Angeles stuff at the beginning of the film to take care of, and I'm not quite sure when that'll happen, but hopefully soon, before we get too far removed from it.
A couple musings, from the shoot...
-- People are incredibly generous in South Australia. Not a single person told us we couldn't film somewhere, if asked, and we only caught a "no" here and there when we were asking people if they'd like to be in our movie.
-- I was the only crew member, outside of the cast members, shooting on 8K with a Red Epic-W camera (helium sensor). I had three Leica-R mount lenses to work with; a 19mm, a 35mm and a 50mm. Sound was boomed (on locked-off tripod shots) or microphones were clamped in place around the scene. I was working with two shotgun microphones; a Schoeps CMIT-5U and a Sennheiser 416. Had I not trusted my instinct to rent the Sennheiser 416, I'm not sure we could have filmed MOST of the scenes we filmed. I rented the 416 as a potential backup, but quickly learned I needed a second source in larger scenes (or even in the car scenes, when we had two mics clamped, one for each actor). Perhaps Lav mics would have been better, but I am unfamiliar with them and didn't want to deal with the excess bullshit that comes with it (sending, receiving signals and all the additional battery power that we'd have needed). On the locked-off shots I'll have to paint myself out of most of them - sometimes I'd be up-close, booming the actors from within the shot - a technique we used a whole helluva lot on House of Cards.
-- Any number of things could have stopped production at ANY point along the way and we'd have been screwed. Among those, primary would have been equipment problems (things not working, etc), theft (none, thankfully), international customs (travelled with a Carnet for my gear (a passport for equipment) - which cost like $500), car rental could have exploded, actors could have bailed, we could have died, etc, etc, etc. None of that happened. Well, mostly. We did have a battery charger (for the camera) die on us mid-way thru the Nullarbor... and I thought we were fucked for a minute, until I realized the camera itself will charge the batteries (Redvolt XL) when powered-off and plugged-in.
-- Some highlights along the way: Adelaide is an awesome city. Would love to return. Quorn is also awesome. The Nullarbor, which is basically nothing but desert and dead kangaroos, still had cell reception and 3G for the vast majority of the trip. Not until we reached Western Australia did we start to have "no service" on our cell phones. Perth was great, too, but in it's own unique way. As desolate as some of the trip was, honestly it's not much different than a drive through the American southwest, except that the sights were more beautiful and, yes, the population is significantly smaller. What amazed me most is just how EMPTY the areas surrounding Perth are. Perth is a large city, but it is surrounded by absolutely fuck all.