Thursday, May 6, 2010

FILMMAKING: Musclin', My Short Film

Though I have been researching filmmaking since I was 13 it was only 4 years ago that I was finally able to begin pursuing this dream. First I played around with editing still images, then I bought a camera and made some "fun" videos. Then I made a teaser video for a script I wrote, then a couple commercials for some contests. Now I am ready to shoot my first short film.

The point of this series of posts is to illustrate a couple points. One is the contrast between where Oklahoma Ward is at in his career versus where I am at in mine, to provide a couple perspectives on Extreme Indie Filmmaking. The other issue is "my" way of making a movie. Independent film is about doing it your way after all and this great site is here to show there are more ways than one to do it; more ways fifty. This is mine.

In contrast to Oklahoma Ward, I am not a full time filmmaker. I have a 40 hour a week "regular" job.This film is for a learning experience and I expect to enter it in film festivals. I cannot afford actors so I am making do with what I've got. I may be getting people that were/are in the theater club at their school to play the teenage parts, but my two main characters, the hero and the villain (protagonist and antagonist) are two friends of mine that are also just regular guys.

One thing that I did to improve on the acting, with two people whom have never acted, was to write the characters to their personalities. Granted, my friend who plays the villain is not a cold hearted killer, but he is a fun loving guy who is enjoying himself, is confident, and seems to get along with everyone. Now, put those character traits in a cold, heartless gunman and apply them to how he feels about what he does. See what I mean? He will be smiling when he kills you and then wonders where he can get something to eat.

I need to meet with the county Sheriff to talk about shooting on country roads in townships where there are no local Police. I want to be on the same page to let him know I want to abide by the law and make sure everyone and everything is safe so that if anyone were to call in a report about where we are shooting (filming, geesh) everyone would know what was going on.

I also need to meet with the Managers and/or owners of a couple businesses to get permission to shoot on their sites. I am not anticpating any concern as they are also in the country and we would not be putting them out in any way. Also, one place is an ice cream and food stand. I will mention that my cast and crew will need to eat after the shoot and that could be motivation enough to be permitted. Also, the credit in the film might be attractive too, as well as a special thank you for the county Sheriff's office I mentioned earlier.

Last year I scouted these country roads. Basically it is farm country. In this part of Ohio the ground is very flat so there is plenty of sky where the trees don't line the road. On a sunny day it is just great. I wanted to capture that feeling, before it goes bad.

I had planned to shoot every weekend in May. I learned this month is no good for anyone! I personally am not available for 2 weekends and so far I only have confirmation for the villain being available for the last weekend. I am waiting to see if my hero is available at this time. Basically it looks like we will be shooting in June instead of May. I have to work not only with my schedule but everyone else involved as well. This did create another opportunity.

The cameras I have are professional quality, television broadcast level cameras.....for 1996. I was able to get them for $100 and $200 and they are practically like new. The thing is that they are Super VHS cameras (twice the resolution of regular VHS). This was fine for learning on, but for entering a film festival they are questionable. Since I have another month, at least, before shooting I am looking into getting a Canon HV30 high definition (1080p) camera. Everything I have read about this camera has been great, and I have seen just amazing videos as well. The quality of this camera puts it into the "prosumer" catagory; a consumer level camera that can net some real professional results. This is the perfect step for me as I groom myself in this pursuit.

In the meantime the Smithsonian Institute is waiting to get my old cameras.

This film will have some car chases and the audience also gets to experience the angst the hero feels as to wondering why someone wants to kill him. The title plays to two notions about the film. "Muscling" someone to get something, and also for the muscle cars that the two main characters drive. For the purists, there is an age old "Chevy vs. Ford" battle.

I love the old school muscle cars. When I sat down to write the script I wanted to write a movie about the cars, but there needs to be more story than that. This is what I watched unfold in my mind as I wrote. We get to see these cars kickin' some ass without the over zealousness of some movies in the past several years. The story keeps you wanting to know...what does the heartless killer think the hero has? At the end there is an ironic tie in that I believe will just floor everyone.

This should be a fun ride.

-Steve Olander

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  1. Am so jealous - I have a script ready for filming based all on Tulsa Street racing - just can't afford to film it yet - Muscle Cars are a HUGE part of my life - and love of mine - can't wait to see the film develop as you move along ;-)

  2. We've spoke about that theme before. We have the same idea in that realm and it would be cool to do something together about it. That's a ways off for me though.

    My first two feature sceenplays are muscle car based. I can't help it, it's who I am. This short will give me more info about what it will take to make them, if I don't sell them first.

    I just got back from the antagonist's house to drop off his copy of the script. He's got the SS454 Monte Carlo. He's pretty pumped.