Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hell Breaks Loose on the Set of The Damned


So we had an early film shoot at Solder's Hollow in Heber which is basically on the side of a railroad track in the middle of an icy desert. (Not really a desert, but it seemed barren enough). It was supposed to begin at 6:30am. After 2 and a half hours of sleep I climbed out of bed and got ready to head out to our meeting location for carpooling up to Heber City. We are behind, of course, and don't make it there until 7:00am.

The reason we had planned to go so early was because our actress could only film before noon. Well, when we arrived- she was nowhere to be found. We got out of our cars at just before sunrise. That didn't last long because we were all convulsing in the extreme cold. We sat in our cars with the heat on while we waited for the actress.

Then we get a call that she has been pulled over by a cop- wonderful. We watch what really was a beautiful sunrise over the mountains and icy lake, except our angry thoughts about why we were up so early and in this freezing wasteland were clouding any good feelings about the situation.

When she finally arrives we hike out to a location up a hill and down the train tracks like a quarter mile. It takes everyone FOREVER to join us (the camera crew and the director) and to get going. We manage to shoot two shots. Then we moved the camera to get our action shot of the day. In this shot, our two actors we supposed to be tumbling down a hill after jumping from the train.

This was where the ultimate bad thing happened. Due to lack of sleep, apparently nobody was thinking straight. The actor's hands were supposed to be tied around his back, so we did. The snow was not soft, it was pretty dang hard. So hard that you could put all your weight on it and most the time it wouldn't give to make a footprint. Well, when you tumble down terrain like that with your hands behind your back, you have nothing to break your fall.

Our actor leaped off the hill (not what we were expecting) and when they were both at the bottom, it was obvious that he was in pain. We don't know what it is. He thought it was his shoulder so we speculated that it was dislocated. We try to sit him up, but the pain is just too much for him. We said a prayer and gave a blessing and he was able to sit up and stand... but this was after 20 minutes of everyone trying to find out what we should do. We were 1/4 mile off any roads next to train tracks. Well we walk with him slowly back to the cars and get him to the local hospital.

He broke his collar bone. Wonderful. Not only did we all feel so horrible for him (he was in tears it was so painful), but he is the main character in the movie. So we got 3 shots. He had been "shot" in the film, so he was wearing a vest with a bullet hole and blood which gave the hospital staff a jolt. Luckily the doctor managed to get his costume off without having to cut it off.

So now, with 3 more days of production left, our main guy is in a sling (he's the one on the right of the last picture I posted in my last post). The snow is melting fast and it is needed for the film. Not only that, but when we loaded everything back up we found that the tripod had broke. We should have all stayed in bed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

El Maldito (THE DAMNED)

So lately I've been putting a lot of hours into helping with a film called El Maldito or, in English, the Damned. It is a Vampire Western. Now, before you judge, you have to take a look at some of these photos. It is awesome! It's been a great experience and it isn't over yet. There are probably three more days of production (up from the one day we originally planned for). We are shooting on the Heber Valley Railroad in train cars. Some of the time we are stationary... but we also shoot while riding the train. There are other locations as well- a snowy embankment, a jailhouse... but mostly on the train.

I have been doing lots of things on set... but mostly assisting Tennille who is the DP (Director of photography or cinematographer. So I have worked as 2nd AC and will work as 1st AC. I like being on the camera crew because I get to be right there in front of the action and can see what it looks like on camera. We are in a small space, so not everyone gets to do this.

What I really love about being on set is watching how everything comes together. The best way to describe the experience is a bit of waiting around with periods of insanity and moments of intensity. The waiting time is usually for one department to finish their set up. This could be the communication with the actors, costume, make-up, lighting, set design, special effects, camera, the list goes on. All these departments have to work together to get the job done. Periods of insanity include the times when we are under time constraints and everyone is running around doing their jobs to get a scene ready. There is yelling, people on walkies, orders being shouted- it's wonderful. haha. Moments of intensity are during the actual shots or at the climax of those periods of insanity. One thing that I learned long ago is to not take things personal. If you are on set, chances are you will be yelled at. Not because people hate you, but because everyone is under pressure to get things done fast. Time is money.

One thing I don't like is when people either do your job whether you want them to or not or let their title get to them. I may not have a ton of experience on sets, but I can be just as valuable. Every once and awhile you get someone who treats you like a nobody. They think they are more important than other people. You also get people who complain about being asked to do something because they feel is is "below them" since they have a higher title. I know that I should expect this in the industry, but not as a student. If everyone just pitches in and has a good attitude it is a ton of fun and things get accomplished.

Anyway, I've been kind of out of touch with people because I've spent so much of my time on this so I thought you all might want a little more info on what it is I am doing. That's all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


So I had this assignment in my cinematography class to take pictures of "interesting" lighting. We were supposed to shoot on 35mm slide film.

If you don't know what that is, it is what our grandparents would sometimes project. You load the film just like any other 35mm film. But instead of it becoming a negative... it is opposite. Positive? I guess. Anyway, when you get it processed it is put into these slides. I was kind of sad because this is much more expensive to do than your normal film. However, it helped me remember the magic in film.

With digital cameras you see exactly what you got. With a 35mm camera you guess what exposure would make for the best shot. You can preview the depth of field and stuff, but you really don't know what you got until you make prints. Well, with slide film, you don't make prints (you can if you want... it just costs more $$$). So, you can scan the slides in digitally (which I did), but even this makes you doubt if it is the real image. You don't really know until it is projected directly off the slide. I still haven't seen my slides projected, but I am excited to see them after being able to preview them digitally.

The picture above it my favorite. I was walking down the stairs from the parking lot of the Bean Museum towards campus when I noticed how the sunlight was hitting this bench. None of my photos were staged, no special lighting used. I just really like this picture. I wish there was a dark red rose or something on the bench in that spot.

The other thing I was re-awakened to was the texture of film. I love it! I like the graininess of it. It feels more earthy and alive to me. Don't get me wrong... I'm not a digi-hater. There is definitely something to be said about digital. For one, it is so much cheaper!

But with film you come across more "happy accidents" I think. For example, you may notice something strange about the picture above. "EXIT" is kind of messed up. Well, it wasn't really like that, but I accidentally loaded the slide wrong when I scanned it and I really liked it so I didn't bother changing it. The "T" is the only letter that looks wrong when flipped over.

The assignment helped me appreciate my 35mm SLR camera more though. I haven't used it a whole lot, and I really should. I always wished I had a digital SLR and would have happily traded away my camera. Not anymore!

My camera :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Are you serious?

Okay, so BYU is issuing new id cards to everyone. Obviously, this is a large undertaking. So, they have assigned dates for people to re-take pictures and get new cards. So I go in today and the first thing they ask is "did you shave this morning?" I answer truthfully- "No." Then she goes on to explain how they have a disposable razor and shaving cream I can use, or I can come back another time. I felt kind of like a jerk, but I was so astonished I said "No" and started walking away shaking my head before she even finished explaining. I could not believe it! I don't shave every day because I don't need to. I don't grow facial hair very fast. If you saw me today, you wouldn't have noticed facial hair at all! I was sort of angry, but mostly just blown away. Besides, I rarely ever shave in the morning. I shave at night after a shower. BAH!

Saturday, February 14, 2009



I have braces. Just call me metal mouth. I'm sure most of you have had braces... but it is a new experience for me and I think I should make some record of it. I don't think people really help you understand what having braces is like. They are very vague. So, here are some things you should know about braces:

Day 1- Optimistic.

You are surprised at how easy it is to strap metal to each tooth and string a wire through. It doesn't take much longer than a cleaning and x-rays. Other than the fact that you now have a metallic smile, you think, "oh, this won't be so bad!" Your teeth feel tight, but in a good way that makes you feel like you will one day have a good, straight smile.

This nice cloud of optimism fades quickly, however, when you realize you are hungry. "Okay," you think, "I can do this." You have already tried to avoid running into people you know or talking when you don't have to and are almost positive you've offended someone... but, other than the new addition to your face (which you assume, like a new hair cut, you'll eventually get used to), you are pretty confident. "A sandwich? Yeah, that should be an easy 'beginner' food," you think to yourself. You take a slightly cautious bite.

"Hmm... I swore I took a bigger bite then that," you think. You did. It's just that half of it is now caking your teeth- smile big! You eat with your head down-- in shame. You are slightly less optimistic about the situation.

Day 2- Angry

So, after a good night's sleep you wake up. What is the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you, run to the bathroom? Do you grab breakfast? Brush your teeth? No... none of these things. Because the morning after you get braces, all you want to do is run to the cupboard and take a handful of ibuprofen-- which is what I did. Pain. Luckily you can basically drink some breakfast foods like yogurt or oatmeal and you manage to eat that.

After the medicine kicks in, your teeth feel fine... but your cheeks are shredded and it only gets worse every time you talk. What is your solution? Try your hand at ventriloquism. People don't exactly understand what you are saying. Your speech is definitely being impaired by the barbed wire in your mouth- go figure. And then it hits you. Who the hell was the masochistic who first thought to strap BARBED WIRE to his teeth? How crude! It is a day full of a few soft foods. It angers you to eat because every time you do, it reminds you of how much your teeth hurt.

Day 3- That tortured squirrel feeling. (What, you don't know that feeling?)

So now that you've had time to learn all the wonderful sensations that come with braces, you begin to realize that they are oddly familiar. Although you haven't experienced them yourself, you realize that something has. For instance, eating. When you are finished eating (bread is the worst), you realize that you aren't quite done. A magical reserve of food has built up above your braces on your top teeth and in your cheeks. Yes! You can now pack a snack for school! You can try clearing this reserve with your tongue, but that results in a cut up tongue. Have you ever tried cleaning barbed wire with your tongue? Yeah. You learn to clear it with a finger and you get a nice re-cap of what you ate. It is an assortment of food- yum. Like when you mix a bunch of stuff into your mashed potatoes. "I'm a freaking squirrel... a squirrel in pain," you realize.

In the last three days, you realize you have eaten a handful of yogurts, a couple helpings of potatoes and gravy and some ice cream. On the bright side you think, "this is a really effective way to loose weight!" Too bad I have always tried to do the opposite. Eating has become something to dread... but you often forget this and think of a good restaurant to go to with friends or a date, only to be brought back to reality. That reality is, "I don't want people to witness my squirrel-like tendencies!" And, "I will die if I try and chew on that."

Day 4- Astonishment

While brushing your teeth (and flossing) at night you realize how much time you will spend this year cleaning your bling at night. In order to floss, you need to thread it through the wire for each tooth. Flossing alone takes at least 15 minutes. I figure it takes me 20-25 minutes for my nightly cleaning because, well, I was already very diligent in cleaning my mouth before this new addition. So 20 minutes every night for a year. That is a little over 5 whole days of brushing and flossing. This does not include morning brushing and the times after meals when you feel like there is a country stuck in your teeth. Wow... that is an unbelievable amount of time to spend on your mouth.

Day 5- Hope

Don't fret little children... there is hope. On the 5th day, you wake up in almost no pain. You only take one dose of pain reliever "just in case." You eat something more substantial than yogurt and ice cream. "Maybe I can enjoy food again," you wonder.

Day 6-?- Adventurous

Now, with hardly any pain when you aren't chewing, you begin to experiment with harder foods. You forget that you have braces until you take a bite, but you manage. You start wondering why people you know, but haven't seen you in awhile, are staring at you intently. "Oh, yeah! I got braces." You smile your metallic smile and go along with your day. You've learned to bite with the side of your mouth and chew with your back teeth. "This actually might be worth it," you conclude.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Drama Takes The Fun Out

I am going to write a little blurb on drama and how it sucks the happiness out of everything. I'm not talking about stage plays and movies. I'm talking about the "he-said she-said and so blah-blah-blah" kind of drama. It makes me want to vomit.

I am a pretty easygoing person. True, I stress about some things- grades, oral hygiene, etc. But when it comes to relationships with people... CHILLAX!! I've been in the middle of drama when I didn't want to be too many times. It isn't worth it. Everything doesn't have to be made into such a fiasco. There doesn't have to be an equation for everything.

One thing I really like about Callie (hi Callie- I know you are reading this), is that there is absolutely no stress. We can talk about things openly without worrying about what the other person thinks and we don't make anything into a huge deal. It's nice. She's easygoing as well.

I think that in our culture (Mormon culture), the whole drama thing is intensified. It makes for a very uninviting atmosphere. Everyone puts so much emphasis on relationships and so they are all completely stressed out about it. They stress to the point where they decide to "boycott" the other sex, or keep some sort of record of boys/girls that they don't like or were offended by. Come on people! It is supposed to be fun and enjoyable. If it is stressful it stops being fun.

Wheew... sorry. That's all for now.