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Student Film year two to three

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  • Student Film year two to three

    I will start shortening things up here. And just get to the salient points. But first, let me say this. Up to this point Heavens Gate was the biggest disaster in the history of filmmaking, at least from the perspective of the investors. At $40 million dollars it bankrupted UA studios. Books have been written about it, universities have classes on it, thank God my name never got in the books, Vilmos Zsigmond wasn’t so lucky. Man you were considered a jinx in Hollywood if you had anything at all to do with that film. $40 million dollars is a lot of money, I mean who bankrupts a mainstream studio?

    So, this student film at this point I have spent close to one year on it and we are $50 million dollars into the film. It still has to be edited, still has to have music scored. And you know those buildings that almost touched the roof? Well heck, you can’t shoot a street with buildings and see a stage roof. Every scene has to have skies and stars put into it. Post effects are not cheap. Also, it is a rare film that doesn’t need a little more footage shot after it is edited. Things often need to get added to make transitions between scenes or to clarify a scene. There can be lots of reasons to go back and add a little more to make a movie work.
    Well, in this movie all of us that knew filmmaking always knew that there was a lot that needed to be done to make it work. We all just were waiting for that phone call. Mine came about 6 months after we wrapped. See the character in this story, in real life had a mental breakdown in his early 20s and spent the majority of his life right up until he died in a mental hospital. The whole film is based on him remembering his life through hallucinations over a one-night period. Actually a one-hour period of listening to music on the radio. Besides needing more footage, the make up department did a horrible job aging him. He looked like Uncle Remus in a High School play. Real amateur hour. So, every scene with our main actor old needed to be re-shot. Plus, now the Director has decided that not only is the character going to be hallucinating he is going to be seeing his life on the walls and he is going to be interacting with people within the hallucinations on the wall like a telephone conversation.

    Oh, but lets not stop there. Why just improve the make up? When you shoot an actor as a kid you don’t try to make the actor look like a child, you hire a child. So, why not hire an old actor to play the young actor? Hey, I’m game as long as someone is paying me. The company scouts around and finds this crazy old washed up comedian from the 60’s. Who used to be fat but fasting as protest against the Vietnam War has made him skinny and toothless and he is no more an actor than my cat is.

    And off we go again. First we have to rebuild the sets. Then we have to decide how we are going to shoot these scenes. The cameraman and myself wanted green screen. The director wanted to put the actors that are in the hallucinations on another stage where they act out there scene live while we film them with a digital camera and then live feed it to a projector which will project the scene onto the wall. Not a totally insane idea except we are shooting film and film and video have syncing problems which we would be fighting and the projected image will be key stoned and not very bright. So, green screen it is.
    A few months later we have finished. And of course we were supposed to do it in two weeks and of course demon weed got in the way. At this point all I am thinking is I can do this right up until retirement. Eight-hour days, all my equipment being used, nice paychecks, screw the story, lets keep shooting.

    And of course we did.
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