Adventures in Trailer-filming...
So now it's time to plan out some awesome publicity.
There are some things that I think you should always make sure you have ready for your movie.
Website. Every movie needs one. I'm going to leave a lot of the nuts-and-bolts stuff of publicity for later. Just suffice to say, you'll need a website and a presence on twitter and facebook. But what do you put on this website?
PICTURES. Take them all the time. I started setting up photoshoots to use in poster design, which is great. But also, anything you do all the way along the movie, snap photos. Production stills, behind-the-scenes...it's all useful. It's great promotional material. But also, when it comes time to send the film to the festivals, you'll need press kits. And press kits always want fun photos, both action shots and behind-the-scenes.
But it's a movie! We can't just have photos. There has to be something filmy! But what sort of video content can you include, if you haven't even cast yet, or shot a single frame?
This is what led us to decide to shoot some teaser trailers.
I had nailed down a lot of awesome locations already, Kevin had his editing equipment and camera. I sat down and wrote up a couple of 30-second to minute-long teaser trailers. Kevin drove up to me, and we shot some footage over a series of days. And THIS is where we all learned a few things about filming together.
I'm going to reveal a secret here, only to people who read the blog. There will definitely be more video stuff coming soon, but there's a lost teaser trailer. One that we planned and shot, but will likely never see the light of day.
So I coordinated with Kevin to come up to shoot some footage, and my friend (and AD on this film) Sky came down from New York to help. One of the teasers we were planning to shoot was going to have something emerge from the creek at night...and this was where we hit a problem.
It was November. It was already getting into the 50's on land, so we could only imagine the temperature of the water. On the night before the shoot, Sky and I sat in a restaurant for HOURS trying to think of some solution, any solution, that meant one of us would not have to get into the water ourselves and emerge from the creek.
We tried everything. We concocted all sorts of pulley-fulcrum schemes, flotation ideas, we even went to a toy store to see if we could find a life-sized doll as a stand-in. To no avail. In the end, we looked at each other, saw the life drain from each other's eyes, and knew: one of us was getting in that water.
And that's why Sky's a hero. He knew I was the director, and I needed to see what was being shot. Like the trooper he is, he volunteered. We bought a wetsuit, got galoshes, and bought a wig to obscure Sky's features and make it look a little more ghostly. Just imagine that picture for a minute. A grown man in a wetsuit, galoshes, and a long brown wig. Yep, we'll do anything to get the shot.
So the night came...and the water, if possible, was even colder than expected. And we were faced with a problem.
I had originally conceived the “emerging” shot as a wide shot, camera far back. But the lighting I ordered had failed, and when we looked at the camera display, the hastily-provided temporary lighting seemed to be too dim for the camera to pick up as a wide shot. So we pulled it in tighter for a close-up.
Sky's moment of truth came. I will never forget it: us clustered on the muddy shore, Sky shivering like a drowned rat in his wig and galoshes, me saying “ok buddy...just one more take, I promise”...5 times.
But we got the shot! Or so we thought...
And this is the lesson we learned. GET A MONITOR. A field monitor for the camera. We were using the little LCD display directly attached to the camera. Here's why that's a mistake:
The LCD display indicated that the light was too dim for anything other than a close-up. But when we got the footage into the editing room, we discovered the camera had in fact picked up more light than we thought. A LOT more. As in, everything. The wetsuit, the boots, Sky's beard and terrified face...it was completely unusable footage.
So what we learned is that the camera works great at night! Yay! But that we need a really reliable monitor in order to REALLY see what the camera is picking up, otherwise it's a waste of a shoot.
The only problem was, I had to call Sky and say, “hey man! Remember that horrible ordeal in the creek? Well...funny story...”
In the end, we had our footage for our main trailer. And Sky didn't kill me. My mom is a teacher and I contacted her to arrange for some kids to record some voice-over dialogue for the trailers. Elizabeth composed some original music. We bought some stock sound online (around $4 per sound file) to replace sound that wasn't useable from the takes, Kevin and I did a little extra foley art (such as me wiggling on a wobbly wooden piano bench to replicate the sound of a porch swing swaying in the wind). Katie designed a series of awesome logos for the title, and Kevin and I edited it all together at his house. Voila! We had our first Lost Creek teaser trailer, which could go front and center on our website. We would also use it to kick off our first publicity wave. And of course, we always had one of us with camera in hand to take fun behind-the-scenes footage of the process.
Stay tuned, there is some very exciting news in the works! Next time....