February 8, 2013

Behind the Scenes of "Gillian's Just Right."

Gavin Belik & I put on our game-faces.
Shooting is always going to be stressful. You only can prepare for so much. After losing a key actress at the 11th hour, re-writing the trailer at 6am the day before we shoot and scrambling to find back-up dead girls (you really should take a look at some of my to-do lists, they're cryptic and bizarre) we finally collected in one place to meet our crew who up until that point, had no idea who we were or what they would be working on. Just like a murder mystery party!
By midnight we assigned roles and outlined our objectives and by 7am the next morning, the crew was on the road to the cabin in the woods. (Insert ominous music here)

Despite some stressful setbacks, once I arrived I was completely overwhelmed at how perfect our location was. The January sunlight was just hovering over the horizon and glowing through the trees in an uncharacteristically warm weekend of -3C. I felt completely blessed, particularly knowing the weekend before, fellow filmmakers had to shoot in -20C blizzard conditions. It's that moment when I said to myself, "It's happening. Everyone is here and it's going to be OK."

That being said, it's incredibly challenging to be the writer, co-director, the main actor, and your own production coordinator. It's hard to concentrate on the scene while feverishly texting volunteers to help pick up stranded actors with a flat tire an hour away from set. But we pulled through with the support of David Baron's hand-selected crew and some fantastic volunteers: David Odumade, Chris White, Thomas Baron, Justin Madsen, Stephen Wynnyk, Blaine Meeka, & Jameson Clancy. Big Love Guys!

What a Crew: Blaine, David, Justin, Stephen & Travis Barton

A much deserved shout-out goes to Michael Benjamin Welsh. Some people just go above & beyond and Michael Benjamin was determined to help with whatever we needed. He drove our actors to the location, assisted with crew and also suited up as a Viking and showed off his acting skills. This man saved our shoot several times by just being reliable, positive, and willing to help. Thank you SO much MB.
Michael Benjamin Welsh: Taking Care of Business

 Kirk Starkie, Lesley Vaage, David Odumade, & Justin Brunelle.
Gavin Belik with Travis and I, preparing for a scene.
Make Up Artist Mallory Greaves with Bethany
Greg Arenburg & Glenn Luff discover Kaylee in the woods.
We have some amazing "Behind the Scenes" Footage that will be released over the course of the CineCoup Challenge, but my team wants me to share a story with you that was not caught on camera.

Because our shoot was ended abruptly at 3am Sunday morning due to the camera being literally frozen with the cold, we had to adjust our script and postpone some night scenes. Stress kinda numbed me out to the usual needs of sleep and hunger so by Sunday morning, I was feeling pretty exhausted. Everyone was. 

We had a round-table discussion of how we can compensate for the shots lost which turned to a slightly delirious group idea of putting Greg in our "Bager" suit from The Theatre Garage and going Twin Peaks, all the way surrealism. Thankfully someone, and I think it was Travis, cut through our sleep-deprived fog and said, "Guys, I'm not sure this is a good idea. We may just think it is because we're really tired."

But what the hell, let's do the shot because we have time. So David Baron finds us this perfect area of virgin snow. The plan is for me to run full-out and crash through like something is chasing me. A few minutes later, I'm tapping into my stress, getting worked up to bolt on very little fuel and I started running too early. I couldn't even see the camera when I went around the bend of trees. The island of forest was a lot larger than I realised.

I finally see the crew and I'm running. The snow is literally up to my cooch in some areas and I feel like I'm drowning in snow. I fall and it takes forever to get up. I fall again, my ears are ringing. I think I can hear Dave yelling at me, "Keep going! It looks amazing!" I scramble and fall again, not even bringing my hands up to protect my head. I just want to sleep. So I struggle and pull through. It's a wrap. I've got tunnel vision as the rest of the guys head back to the cabin. I feel awful. I can't walk back without immense nausea over-taking me. Greg stays behind with me. 
"I don't want to puke."
"Do it. You'll feel better."
"People will think I'm a pussy."
"No they won't. You've just over-exerted yourself."
 Greg stays with me as I dig a hole and dry-heave into the snow. He's still wearing the bear suit.

"Where's... (heave) Behind the scenes now... "(heave).

Friends you can blow chunks and share bunks together, priceless. And THAT's how you make a MutherF***ing Movie.

Greg Arenburg & Family for the perfect location and a wonderful place to warm up our feet. We couldn't have asked for a better Cabin in the Woods!
Paul & Ross - our viking historians who came out with hand-made costumes & weapons. 
Tom & Dave - for dressing up and freezing their butts off to drink blood in the wilderness.
Angela Palmer, Gray Wilson Ford, Kirk Starkie, Justin Brunelle, Richard Lam, Glenn Luff and Gavin Belik. Our talented actors.
Mallory Greaves (Make Up Artist) for her excellent work and for being a great road trip companion.
Mark Shalanski  (Photographer) for all the photos posted here, thanks for coming out!
Kaylee & Bethany, who completely saved our asses and came out last-minute to get gory and sleep in the wet snow. 
Lesley Vaage - our incredible PR social media member who booked us a motel so we didn't all die from veering off the highway in sleep deprivation. Even if it looked like the Bates Motel...
David Baron - the mad genius, willing to do things we can't legally talk about, who brought my screenplay to life with his incredible photographic vision. Dave, you can have all the lights you want!

And OF COURSE, everyone's favourite Mom-On-Set: Momma Jane. Using her consulting and management skills to keep people on track, carb'd up and juiced with the best craft services you could dream of. And it's nice to have some hugs when you're stressed.
This glamorous shot was taken in NYC.

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