Posted tagged ‘michael d. sellers’

RANDOM (GUSHING) THOUGHTS ON AVATAR

December 20, 2009

When’s the last time you came out of a movie and just wanted to get in line and see it again right then?  When’s the last time you wanted to shout to the people in line waiting to get in –it’s INCREDIBLY AWESOME, PEOPLE?  That’s how strongly I felt when I walked out of the theater tonight.  This was the most blissful cinematic experience I’ve ever had.  So my question is – why?  What is it about this film that has turned me in to a blithering maniac muttering words of  adoration?  It’s worth pondering because this has taken me to someplace very special.

I’m not going to do more than simple service to a description of the story.  By now everyone knows the basic outline:  it’s 2051 and on a planet called Pandora, humans are extracting the valuable mineral “unobtainium”, but in their way are the Na’vi,  a 10 foot race of blue-skinned, catlike forest warriors of extraordinary beauty, simplicity, and oneness with their world –a world which itself, we eventually learn, is interconnected in a way that makes earthly notions of ecology seem rather tame and limited.  They’re the ‘noble savage’ taken to a new level. The natives are living in a spectacular forest and ground zero in that forest is a special tree that is spiritually the center of their universe –and under this tree is where the greatest source of unobtainium exists.  The human mission:  If at all possible, negotiate with the natives and convince them to leave.  If they won’t go – use other means. To learn more about their ways, a parapalegic marine and a couple of scientists inhabit an “avatar” – a kind of cloned up version of themselves made to “be” a native – a creature which they control with their minds from a semi-conscious state. The idea is to gain the trust of “the People” by appearing as one of them.   Well clearly there’s a danger that any level headed hero might “go native” when put on the ground amidst this intriguing culture — especially when he finds himself being taught by the most wondrously beautiful ten foot blue female anyone is likely to ever encounter, and so the “mission: is compromised.  Will he become the leader of “the People” as they fight back against the “sky people” (humanfolks).  You get the drift.  A cracking good sci-fi story — a genre movie, basically, executed to a level never attempted or achieved before.

What does this movie do for me?

First of all — flash back to 1976.  I had grown up reading all the great fantasy and sci-fi writers of the fifties and sixties–Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Poul Andersen – and Star Wars was coming out with great fanfare.  I went to the Mann Chinese Theater in LA on opening day to see it.   Was I excited?  Yes.   And how did I come out of the theater?  Deeply disappointed.  The critics were all out there saying that sci-fi had arrived.  Not for me.  Star Wars struck my sci-fi minded imagination as small, kind of mindless piece of entertainment that didn’t come close to capturing what good sci-fi was all about.  There were no serious or even useful ideas being put out there; the special effects didn’t come close to capturing what my mind had imagined reading all those books.   No.  And 2001 didn’t do it for me although I had great respect for that effort.  Nor did Close Encounters.  Starship Troopers was a huge disappointment.  Earlier this year there was District 9 – now that was a great appetizer for the main course I experienced tonight.  But what a main course.

As I was watching Avatar tonight …. here are all the associations it triggered, exploding in my mind one after another:


•    Primal dreams of flight – we all have them … from the first moments there was a sense of that, of the feeling of effortless flight hurtling above canopied forests filled with misty clouds, the stuff of dreams.  And then there comes a point when the characters are riding on the backs of the ‘ikran’ — pterodactyl like creatures amazingly imagined down to the smallest detail — amazing.
•    Edgar Rice Burroughs.  I said I grew up readng Asimov, Heinlein, et al — but who I really devoured more than any other writer of interplanetary fiction is Edgar Rice Burroughs. More than anyone else, Burroughs evoked vivid (some and detailed images strange lands and stranger creatures–planets with a breathtaking visual aura, with fully developed histories, – but always with the vivid descriptions woven within the fabric of a hero tale that touched archetype n a way that no other writer, before or since, has been able to do.  If you aren’t familiar with Burroughs John Carter of Mars, by this time next year you will be (if the long delayed production of Burroughs martian epic finally makes it to the screen as scheduled).  None addicts are more familiar with Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes, and if you haven’t read the actual book Tarzan of the Apes, you don’t know about the magic I’m talking about.  The magic of the forest, the creatures, a hero-child of mysterious beginnings who made himself one with another world.  The Tarzan of the books didn’t swing on vines like Johnny Weismuller—he ran through the terraces of the canopied rainforest, a part of that forest, as a home there as you or I would be on, say – 7th Avenue in New York.  (That last bit is a bit of an homage to Burroughs – one that doesn’t do his prose justice).  But more than Tarzan there was Burroughs incredible Martian series,  stories of a dying planet he called Barsoom where an atmosphere factory was all that kept the people alive; where telepathy was how riders controlled six legged “thoats”; where a dying Ulysses Paxton, his legs maimed and lying in a World War 1 trench  reached out and was transported to  the new planet and a new life (avatar like?)….And then there was the Burroughs series that completely resonates with Avatar – the Venus series where socieities lived among great gigantic mist enshrouded trees, where bird-men fought with humans for supremacy.  And always there was the archetypal hero, a man who was always the man that a young adolescent boy would want to be, smart and fast, brave and strong, of noble heart and ideals — and singleminded in the love for whatever exotic and “incomprable” princess or warrior Burroughs would throw in his path.  All of that – Cameron has to have read this novels because he drew on that knowledge throughout this movie.  I always felt that Burroughs was hugely underappreciated in literary circles, (much in the way that Cameron tends to be dismissed as a technical innovator but not a great film-maker in certain film critic circles) — and indeed if you read Burroughs life story you’ll see how true that is that he was dissed regularly – he couldn’t even get Tarzan—a huge hit as a pulp serial—published as a book until he formed Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., and did it himself.  Yet at last count it was the book which, other than the bible, has been translated into more languages than any other.   When I read Burroughs my mind and my heart were filled with wondrous things—wondrous things that stirred me in a primal way that might have been a bit adolescent, but which nevertheless transported me.  And tonight, with Avatar, Cameron brought it alive, the same feelings – the same yearnings and longings and sense of wonder.  Only instead of it being only brightly imagined between the synapses of my brain, there it was – in incredibly vivid, glorious (and restrained and tasteful, believe it or not) 3D.  And by the way — just for reference, here is an illustration of Burroughs’ Barsoom which, if you’ve seen Avatar — will look familiar.


•    The other things that came to mind (they won’t get the ink that I just gave Burroughs because he was, I think, seminal to what Cameron has accomplished) – as they say on the elimination shows, ‘in no particular order’, Robert Duvall in Apocalypse now, the stories of Robert Heinlein, the stories of Isaac Asimov, an incredible novel by Peter Mathiessen “At Play in the Fields of the Lord” (a disappointing movie, but a novel to treasure forever), Last of the Mohicans (both the novel and the film), Apocalypto, the New World, Dances With Wolves.
•    There will be those who don’t “get it”.  Not too many, I hope.  But the film aesthetes will find fault with some less than scintillating dialogue—not much, just a little—and there will be those who perhaps lament that characters were didn’t have as much arc as “good movies” require.  But what I’m wondering is – will these same people who only think of movies in a certain narrow framework of what is expected of characters to make it a serious piece – will they grasp the utter suppleness of imagination that is blazed into every frame of this movie.
•    It’s a film with some ideas, too – it’s something that those longsuffering sci-fi fans like myself always knew, that good sci-fi tends to have an element of social criticism in it—that the format lends itself to an examination of human foibles.  How wonderful when, at the end of the movie (oops, slight spoiler here, skip to the next paragraph if you’re worried about spoilers), someone says:  “And the aliens were sent back to their dying planet” and the aliens are us.  Is it a totally unique and original story? No. Is any story? Well, yes — there are some that seem to break new ground.  But part of what makes the experience of enjoyng story as enjoyable as it is — is our recognition of patterns that are familiar enough for us to recognize them, yet fresh in some way.   I would argue that there is so much fresh in the imaginative, technically and aesthetically excellent way that the story is presented, that Cameron can be given a slight bit of slack if the story feels –to the literary and film elite, anyway–not completely original or unique.
•    But I think the most important thing that Cameron has accomplished is an astonishing act of imagination and creation — the details that have been brought to life are just extraordinary.  When you see it, you feel like you’re there.  That’s the magic – that’s what Burroughs did.  I could draw you a map of Barsoom and tell you the history of the planet; I could name all the creatures, in the language of the Mangani (the great apes), in Tarzan’s forest.  You left the books feeling like you’d been there, like you’d felt the forest leaves under your feet, the dry ochre sea bottoms of Barsoom, the mist enshrouded rainforests of  Venus.  This is that same kind of immersive experience — you feel like you’ve been there and you don’t want to leave – and after you leave, you want to go back.

In fact I am going to go back tonight and watch it a second time.  10:10 showing.  IMAX 3d this time.  Can’t wait.

By the way — here are some images from Avatar that are different from the stills you see all the time on the web.  I picked these out from the full trailer……


And here’s the link to the full theatrical trailer…enjoy — and go see it in 3D!

Avatar Theatrical Trailer

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T Minus 1 Day — Here We Go Over the Edge of the Cliff…..

January 23, 2009

Okay — we’re REALLY up and grinding now. Last day before we start shooting so everyone is activated and we are receiving the equipment, the trailers, props. set dressing — all that stuff is being delivered; the pre-lighting of the sets is starting to happen; we had our final pre-shoot meeting with the production design team to make sure that the sets are okay; the final shotlist has been published (I’m going to put it up here in a different post)…..and of course my head is spinning a bit because in the background there is all the “producer” stuff to deal with — figuring out how to get enough petty cash (we need $9,000 but if you withdraw more than $3,000 it automatically triggers a “suspicious transaction report” and we don’t want that), figuring out some cashflow issues, etc etc.

Anyway — the good news is we’re permanently on the set now for the next five days — no more going to the regular office, and as of now (2:19 on Friday) I’ve put up an “out of office autoreply” on my regular email and I’m officially not dealing with anything but the movie until we wrap.

Also, we have WIFI here on the set so during breaks I can come update and add photos here.

Now here’s a picture gallery taken just a few minutes ago of a lot of the work going on here:

Imre, Gaffer, Calling for more something

Imre, Gaffer, Calling for more something

More Set Dressers at Work

More Set Dressers at Work

Alyssa's Hospital Room -- Set Ready to Go

Alyssa's Hospital Room -- Set Ready to Go

Hospital Hallway -- Set Dressers at Work

Hospital Hallway -- Set Dressers at Work

Forensic Lab (where dolphin will be examined)

Forensic Lab (where dolphin will be examined)

Wardrobe Closet -- Scrubs, etc

Wardrobe Closet -- Scrubs, etc

Shai Goldenburg Hanging lights

Shai Goldenburg Hanging lights

Another view of our stage entrance

Another view of our stage entrance

Lila Javan (Director of Photography) in front of our trailers, all two of them!

Lila Javan (Director of Photography) in front of our trailers, all two of them!

Michael Ironside and “Catch A Taxi Productions”

January 16, 2009

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by Michael D. Sellers

As many of you know, Michael Ironside will be joining the cast of Way of the Dolphin for the Los Angeles shoot.  He’ll be playing the role of Captain Elias Blaine.  I haven’t spoken to him yet and I’m not sure he’ll remember me (I’m almost certain he won’t), but we’ve met and actually worked together once, long ago.

It was in the Philippines in 1992.  I was line producing my first bona-fide international film — Fortunes of War — starring Michael, Martin Sheen, Haing Ngorr (of Killing Fields fame), and some others.   Michael worked on the first day of filming, which was to take place at a residence in some very remote corner of “Metro Manila” (which means the whole 15 million population mega-city), probably a good hour in nasty traffic from the hotel.  Although as line producer I was generally responsible for all aspects of the below the line production, which would normally include getting the actors to the set — the American producers (I was considered a Philippine producer because I lived there) didn’t want to entrust this to the Filipino side, and insisted on organizing this themselves.  picture-114

So, on this first day, I remember arriving there before daylight, checking to make sure that the camera truck was there; the grip/electric truck; the catering; the craft services; all the different pieces of production.  Everything was good.  We had cameras; we had lights; we had film; we had all the picture vehicles; the set was ready; set dressing was in place; props were there — you get the idea, it’s a long checklist and when you’re production manager or line producer it’s all your responsibility.

Then the actor’s started arriving and — Michael Ironside was missing. It wasn’t that he was late.  It was just that he wasn’t in the van bringing actors to the set and he wasn’t in his hotel room.

By this time the US producers were there too and there was a big scramble to try and figure out where Michael Ironside was.  The communications weren’t good — we had radios for communicating around the set, but this was before there was any cell phone coverage in this section of Manila (might have been pretty much before cell phones entirely).

I remember standing on the balcony of the house that was our set, looking down a road that was a long, slow climb down a hill. Eventually I saw a decrepit Manila taxi (all taxis in Manila were decrepit in those days) putt-putting up the hill.  It slowed down and seemd to be searching for an address (no street numbers, of course), and my hopes rose.  And sure enough, the taxi stops, the door opens, and Michael Ironside gets out.

I’m pretty sure I was the first one to greet him and he was pretty cool about the whole thing.  Seemed to be taking it in stride.  I thanked him profusely for finding his way to the set on his own (no small feat), didn’t ask too many questions about how it happened, and walked him up the driveway to the house where we were filming.  There I handed him off to the First AD and breathed a sigh of relief.  We were complete.  Whew.

But the PS to all this is the following:  As I said, Michael was totally cool about it when it happened and didn’t show his anger at anyone, and in fact seemed to take the whole thing in stride.  If you’re not in the film biz this may not seem that big a deal — but let me assure you, in a foreign country, on the first day of filming, to somehow miss the pickup of one of your major stars and leave him standing at the hotel with no ride to the set and no way of communicating with the crew — this was a huge screwup and many/most actors of Michael’s stature would have been spitting nails by the time they got to the set.  Michael didn’t do that.  He did, however, get his comment on this when he showed up the next day wearing a T shirt with a beautifully designed logo and inscribed:  “Catch A Taxi Productions, Manila Philippines,” and then the date on it.

Message received, loud and clear.  And, all things considered, it was a very gentle way of chiding the production for a pretty big mistake on day one.

Anyway — I did some searching around the net and was able to find the trailer for that film.  It brings back memories for sure, and it’s worth a look.  It wasn’t a bad film at all.  And I brought in the entire below the line Philippine cost at $297,000 — pretty hard to imagine doing that now.  Take a look:  FORTUNES OF WAR TRAILER

Getting Started (Again)

January 15, 2009

Getting ready to shoot in LA is so much easier than shooting at a distant location. Here, there is just about everything you need within ten minutes of our offices in Burbank. So we got started for real today with a meeting of myself, producer Susan Johnson, and production supervisor (himself a producer in his own right but he’s helping us out as production supervisor) Al Dickerson, my old friend. Here is a pic of Al winning a CAMIE award.
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And here’s one that captures a bit more of what he really looks like:

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Our first couple of meetings were at a coffee shop (“Romancing the Bean”) in Burbank, down the street from our office. She’ll probably make me take it down — but here’s a pic of Susan from the meeting yesterday.picture-106

So that’s the initial team — it will grow day by day until there will be 60 or so of us when we’re shooting.

Prior to all of this there has been a lot work that Susan and I have been doing to finally get confirmation of dates that work for all the actors.   We had to dodge Sundance (going on now), and the inauguration (next week) — but we’re good to go, everyone is on board and all the actors are confirmed, including new addition Michael Ironside, whom we’re very excited to be working with.

The biggest decision we had to make was — where to shoot in LA.  The show was designed so that we would be able to shoot all of the LA portion on a stage, but the question then becomes — what stage?  For those of us in the indie world, the default choice is good old Lacy Street Studios.   But after weighing Lacy and some other options — we settled (as we almost always seem to do) on going up to Santa Clarita, which is 30 minutes from Burbank but (importantly) still within what SAG characterizes as “local” Los Angeles.

We ended up choosing Sets In The City — a facility in Santa Clarita that specializes in medical sets that are fully stocked with set dressing and props.  This is perfect for us becaue the scenes we are filming need the following sets

  • Hospital Room
  • Hospital Hallway/Nurses Station
  • Forensic Lab/Morgue
  • Underwater Laboratory (we have to build this set but tons of the props are available — we’re actually building inside the Courtroom set they have at the facility)
  • Captain Blaine’s Office
  • Exterior Naval Base

The beauty of it all is that we were able to find an office for Captain Blaine that actually has a window out onto the big metal corrugated buildings that totally look like a Naval base and will work for us.  (Somewhere in my computer I have shots of Subic Naval Base in the Philippines that look indistinguishable from what we’re going to be able to show here.

Anyway … today we had our first scout there.  Here are some photos of the sets and the facility:

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Supreme Court Agrees to Review Navy Sonar Case

June 23, 2008

Now this is interesting.  It just came out that the Supreme Court has agreed to review a California Appellate Court ruling against the U.S. Navy regarding the use of mid-range active sonar in California coastal areas. 

For us, this is quite fascinating because this is a story which plays a significant role in our film story for Way of the Dolphin.  First of all – here’s the AP story on the Supreme court decision. And then afterward, some comments from me: 

Supreme Court agrees to review Navy sonar case

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday stepped into a dispute over the Navy’s use of sonar off the Southern California coast and its potential harm to dolphins and whales.

Acting at the Bush administration’s urging, the court agreed to review a federal appeals court ruling that limits the use of sonar in naval training exercises.

Sonar, which the Navy uses primarily to locate enemy submarines at sea, can interfere with marine mammals’ ability to navigate and communicate. There is some evidence that the technology has caused whales to strand on shore.

The administration says the decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco jeopardizes the Navy’s ability to train sailors and Marines for service in wartime.

The government also says national security interests can trump those of marine mammals, and that its use of mid-frequency sonar in training exercises hasn’t caused any documented harm to dolphins or beaked whales.

The Navy applauded the high court’s intervention.

“The Navy’s position has been the same since the first court case. This is an issue that is essential to national security and we welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case,” said Admiral Larry Rice, the director of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Environmental Readiness Division.

Rice said the restrictions placed on the Navy in earlier court rulings, if not overturned, could cripple training exercises.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, who along with four other advocacy groups sued the Navy over the issue, contends there are ways to use sonar and to protect wildlife.

“It’s clear … that the Navy can reduce the risk of this harm by commonsense safeguards without compromising our military readiness,” Joel Reynolds, director of NRDC’s Marine Mammal program, said in a statement.

Although the science is inconclusive, there is strong evidence that sonar affects marine mammals. The Navy’s own environmental assessment of the use of sonar in 14 training exercises off the California coast found it could disturb or harm an estimated 170,000 marine mammals, including temporary loss of hearing in at least 8,000 whales.

Some environmentalists said the Supreme Court’s hearing of the case will finally settle what takes precedence — national security or environmental protection.

“This will decide whether or not the Navy is fulfilling its security goals in a way that doesn’t leave massive collateral damage,” said William Rossiter, president of Cetacean Society International, one of the plaintiffs in the case.

Lower courts concluded there would be near certain harm to marine life in Southern California if the Navy proceeded with sonar exercises as planned.

An injunction by a federal judge in Los Angeles early this year created a 12-nautical-mile no-sonar zone along the coast and ordered the Navy to shut off all sonar use within 2,200 yards of a marine mammal. That prompted President Bush to step in and sign a waiver exempting the Navy from a section of the Coastal Zone Management Act so training could continue as the government appealed the decision.

But the 9th Circuit sided with the lower court and said the Navy must abide by the injunction. However, while the litigation was under way the appeals court gave the Navy leeway to lessen the restrictions if it determined it was in a critical maneuver point, so that sonar shutdown would begin at 1,000 meters (about 1,093 yards) and full sonar shutdown would come at 200 meters (about 219 yards). Those are the restrictions the Navy is currently operating under.

Arguments will take place in the next court term, beginning in October.

COMMENTS:  It’s important to understand that one of the reasons the California Court decision happened the way it did, is because a big piece of it is simply that the court felt the Navy should use use reasonable precautions to in effect “clear the range” before releasing sound bombs into the water that can kill marine mammals.  One of the things that really struck me about this issue is that on the one hand, you can easily make the case the national security trumps the welfare of a few marine mammals — acceptable collateral damage, right?  But on the other hand, if what is required is simple common sense precautions, why would the Navy not be willing to exercise the same care in “clearing the range” of vulnerable marine mammals.  I think it’s important to understand that in the movie we don’t demonize the Navy … rather we present the two competing arguments and frankly it’s not an easy one to figure out.  That complexity is evident in the fact that the Supreme Court has agreed to review the issue — it would never have gotten elevated to that level of consideration if it were not an interesting and compelling issue with meaningful arguments on both sides.

Sunday: A Day Off (Sort of)…and Some Quiet Time With the Script

June 22, 2008

7:00 PM

I got in a good 5 hours this AM with no phone calls, no emails, no interruptions — and was able to put it toward developing the shooting plan for some of the key scenes. I started with the open water scenes and did a narrative shooting plan and some sketches. These will be examined by the others in the production, and with their help troubleshooting we will refine them into a final plan. Here is a sample from one scene: I got about 10 scenes done today:

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SYNOPSIS: Craig and Gwynn arrive, talk, watch Delphinus leave.

OVERVIEW
We start with A CAM on the Diving Platform (where it was at conclusion of scene 2 previous)
We start with Dolphins on hand, continuing from scene 2, so we have to shoot out the dolphin portions first
Later, after the dolphins leave, A CAM moves to Delphinus for additional coverage w/o dolphins.

Note: To avoid wasting time with the dolphins in the water (and they will be here in continuation from scene 2), our initial coverage of this scene will pickup from the point where Gwen and Craig are already stationary on their jet skis, and will end before Daniel fires up the engine and the Delphinus begins to move. So we will skip the arrivals and departures and do them separately, at the end, after the dolphins are gone. Also, for the same reason we will start this scene with both cameras in same position they were at the end of Scene 2 — i.e. CAM A is on the diving platform, and CAM B is in the water.

SETUP 1
W/DOLPHINS
A CAM ON DIVING PLATFORM
B CAM IN WATER
SEE SKETCH ENTITLED: SCENE THREE, SETUP 1

1A) A CAM: Wide Classic Master on Craig/Gwen from high enough angle that it could be POV from deck of Delphinus — wide enough to show Craig/Gwynn and Rasca in the same shot.
1B) B CAM: Grab dolphin pieces as possible, taking care to stay out of A CAM’s shot, which is pretty wide. Might get some underwater shots wide enough to show the two jetskis from below, and Rasca in the water around them.

2A) A CAM: (LENS CHANGE; SAME POSITION AS 1A) Lively master, tighter, panning from Craig to Alyssa
2B) B CAM: In water, can be closer, trying to get Rasca and Craig/Gwen in same shot. We’ll take whatever pieces we can get that tie them together.

SETUP 2
W/DOLPHINS
SHOOTING END OF SCENE ONLY (from point where Daniel fires up the engine

SETUP 3
W/DOLPHINS
5A: A CAM: From Delphinus, closer shots of Rasca

WITHOUT DOLPHINS
ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE MASTER
SETUP 4
1A) A CAM: From Platform: Clean classic master on Craig/Gwynn from Delphinus, mainly for the beginning and end of the scene. We need to get the jets skis approaching, stopping, and beginning of dialogue; then we need the end, a two shot of Craig and Gwenn watching the Delphinus and Rasca disappear. If we can get all the dialogue too, that’s great – but not essential and becaue of jet-ski maneuverability issues, it will be necessary to shoot the “dialogue master” separately, without showing the arrival, so we can implement procedures to keep the jet skis stable during the dialogue.

1B) B CAM: From water, catching 2 shot master of same action. This would be Rasca’s POV of the arrival; at the end it would just be another angle of Craig/Gwynn watching, since Rasca is no longer there. During this take, B CAM can also free lance some underwater shots of the jet skis arriving and, while talking is going on, maneuverng in the water as seen from below – presumably as seen by Rasca from Rasca POV.

SETUP 5
W/O DOLPHINS
A CAM ON DELPHINUS
B CAM IN WATER

DIALOGUE MASTER
Note: This setup starts with Craig and Gwynn on their jetskis after having arived. This is so that we can implement procedures to keep the jet skis as stable as posslbe during the dialogue, with the engines off for sound purposes. There may be some special rigging to keep them close together and pointed in the right direction.

2A) A CAM: From Delphinus, 2 Shot of Craig/Gwynn
2B) B CAM: From water, lively master panning from Gwynn to Craig and back, simulating Rasca’s POV

SETUP 6
W/O DOLPHINS
A CAM ON DELPHINUS
B CAM IN WATER

3A) A CAM: Lively MCU master, panning from Alyssa to Kita to Daniel — try several takes, various combinations.

3B) B CAM: Simulate Rasca POV, swimming around actively while watching Craig/Gwynn from above and below surface, freelance closer shots on each.

19 June Log: (Updated at 5:49 PM)

June 19, 2008

5:49 PM

Back at the hotel now after a longish meeting at the production office. Covered a lot of issues — also took a call from Craig Woods, the film commissioner for the Bahamas, who has been very supportive of our efforts here.  I am about to dive into the weekly cost report — and am in the midst of sending out check requests to the LA office for some major payments that have to be made in Los Angeles.  

As half expected, I never got the chance today to deal with the script and it’s too late now — that part of my brain doesn’t work this late in the day.  Fortunately the number crunching side does, so I’ll be able to do the necessary with the cost report.  (For some reason — math and spreadsheets are fine for me to do at night, but not writing — or rather not creative writing, screenplays and such.  Those cylinders seem to only fire early in the morning up until about noon.  Tomorrow morning I will definitely do that work first thing…..

 

 

2:30 PM

Back from a long meeting with Susan Johnson. We covered a lot of territory:

  • Wardrobe issues. No major problems but we’re not happy yet with where we are with Ivana Milicevic. We looked at everything on the costume designers online gallery, then selected the few that are working — then provided guidance via iChat with the designer. We ended up feeling like we’ve got it going in a good direction.
  • I’m also a little concerned that the proposals for what we see the Navy Marine Mammal trainers wearing does not match exactly what they really wear. So I did some online hunting and have been forwarding around photos. I’ll post a couple of them here:
  • We also went over the schedule, got ourselves on the same page on that one. No major dramas…..got pretty much solidified through the first week. (I will post the sked on a page on the site … probably tonight when I have more time

Got back over to the hotel and logged in to discover a little banking drama. I mentioned that I sent out the first wire transfer to the Bahamas (i.e. the first one I’ve had to do since I was here — which requires different procedures, actually some hi-tech stuff that the bank kitted me out with.) Well, there was a glitch…turns out the account that the bank set me up for the whizbang hi-tech thingy is not the right account. So the wire I thought I sent didn’t get out. Sorted it out after about an hour of phone and email wrangling. The bank, by the way, has been very good generally.

Have finally gotten back to “work” (what feels like work to me and what I get forced to spend my time doing are two different things. I supposed they’re all work of one sort or another.)

Anyway, I’m now working on my director boards starting with locaction and set photos and sketches. I’ve made a page here to post them — LOCATIONS –. Meanwhile here’s two just so you can see what they’re like. There will end up being one of these for each location and/or set. Click on the images to see a larger version.

(Logoff 2:36PM)

10:40 AM

Four hours hunched over my laptop … feeling a bit of cabin fever at this point.

Things I’ve been dealing with:

  • Reviewing/commenting on the shooting schedule sent to me by the first AD. Gradually getting us both on the same page …. had discussions with Susan Johnson about this as well.
  • Set up all the check requests for today/tomorrow…..waiting for the return inputs from the production office.
  • Spent an hour on the phone wth banks in the US sorting out some issues regarding wire transfers from US to here, which are now about to begin in earnest.
  • Answered a ton of emails.

I have to say — doesn’t sound (or feel) all that productive to me. Fact is, one of the biggest stress inducers for me is when I have things that I want to do and feel are important – but I can’t get to them because I’m being swarmed with “must do” stuff. It’s been that kind of morning. I’ve got cost report stuff to do later today so I’m not home free yet from the admin stuff……

6:48 AM

I’m in the lobby of the Sheraton again … logged in with a cup of coffee. Weather’s good after some storms last night. (I’m going to start noting the weather each morning because this is important to us.) Today’s Thursday which means I’ll be heavily involved in accounting and finance stuff for at least half the day. This is the day we handle all the weekly check requests and then create a weekly cost report….Also I’m also going to try and get a google documents setup going for the crew so that we can use shared documents rather than constantly emailing updated documents around. I’m also going to be going over the schedule revisions which have just been submitted by the first AD, then spending some time with UNEXSO to make sure all is well with them. (We had a hiccup yesterday when a marketing rep for the film made contact with the Alliance of Marine Mammals Parks and Acquariums and inadvertently triggered “dolphin politics”. I’ll write separately about that sometime (dolphin politics) …. there’s a bit about it now on the “dolphin issues” page. Somewhere in all of this I’m hoping to get two hours with the script for some dialogue revisions. Anyway – that’s the plan, we’ll see how it goes.