Friday, October 22, 2010

The Night Shift: It doesn't suck

The Night Shift is the production diary of Fighting Owl Film's new independent supernatural-adventure-comedy of the same name currently in "post" in Mobile, AL. Over the course of the next several weeks and months, you'll get an insider's peek at what it's like for filmmakers to craft a new entry of paranormal pop culture from Erin Lilley, a producer and actress on the film.

It Doesn't Suck

I can officially announce that the movie does not suck! Thomas and I sat down with Soren (first asst. director and cinematographer) and Genna (first production assistant) to watch the rough cut, and we were pleasantly surprised. The sound needs work, there isn't any music and the special effects still need to be added, but all in all, the bones are there, and they're looking fairly decent.

Honestly, given everything that went wrong during filming, I really had no idea what we were going to end up with. None of us did. We lost our original cinematographer three days before shooting began, so lighting and shots had to be figured out as we went along. The recording system worked when it felt like it, so audio was hit or miss. It was hot and humid, and makeup and hair don't like heat and humidity (neither do actors or crew, for that matter). The cops tried to bust us. Twice. Herbie had mechanical difficulties (the diva). Time was not on our side. There was a train track, and a highly used PA system, both right next to the main cemetery. There were landscapers who thought it was hilarious to run their weedeaters and blowers until we said "cut," then start up again at "action" (and let me assure you, it's not). 

But with all that (and a little more I won't bore you with), we really didn't know what to expect. Thomas and I had seen each scene come together separately during editing, but nothing in context with the rest of the movie. Genna and Soren hadn't even seen that much. In fact, most of what Soren had seen had been upside down because, well, that's just what the 35mm lens adapter does. We sat down, pads and pens in hand, ready to rip the thing to shreds.

It didn't need it. Sure, there are a few things that will get trimmed for pacing and run-time, but overall, we're really pleased, and can't wait for you guys to see it. One day. When it's done.   
The movie's not out of the woods, of course. It won't be until everything's completely finished and it's ready to be sent off to festivals and whatnot. 

There again, we are posed with a couple of challenges:  

1) We filmed in standard definition. We edited in standard definition. It looks fantastic through a standard DVD player on a standard definition television. It does not look as good (still, not bad) when played through a up-res-ing DVD player onto a Hi-Def plasma TV. How do we fix that?  

2) How on Earth do we get a file that big onto a DVD without compressing the life out of it? That's something they didn't teach in film class. Oh well, we'll figure it out. That's been the name of the game, so far. We might as well keep playing. 

Still, Thomas and I found time to run away from home. Between constantly staring at the movie on the computer, tracking down a new special effects tech (long story), and the fact that when we moved into our new apartment, we had to go through all the movie leftovers (props, costumes, equipment, etc.) and find places to put all of it, we needed to get far, far, far away from anything movie related. 

No more ghosts, zombies, undead caretakers - nothing!  We were done.

So where did we go? The Haunted Mansion. Brilliant.

Thomas and I drove eight hours to Orlando, Fla., for Mickey's Not-So Scary Halloween Party. I think that pretty much defeated the point of going, but we had a really good time. Of course, we spent the whole time checking out the fake stonework on the mansion (Thomas: "Where was this when we needed crypt walls?"), and the makeup and costumes on the ghost dancers in the parade, constantly comparing.

Oh well, we tried to escape.

We also visited Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Universal was gearing up for Halloween Horror Nights. Now, we skipped out on that actual event, but were able to check out some of the decorations, and boy, were they awesome. 

Still, not the best way to run away from your own paranormal flick.  While we were there, we also had to check out the Horror Makeup Show (gee, I'd forgotten how much fun fake blood and latex appliances can be) and Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue. Apparently, we're just gluttons for punishment.

At Islands of Adventure we played around in the new Harry Potter area (Thomas:  "Seriously!  How did they make these walls look so real?! Oh, yeah. Money. Nevermind.") and tried to put the movie in the very back of our minds.  That almost worked.  

All in all, it was a valiant effort to find some downtime, but as much as we eat, sleep and breathe this movie, it was a fool's errand to begin with. Oh, I almost forgot! What did we do when we weren't in the parks? We hung out in the hotel room and watched Supernatural and Ghost Adventurers. We may need an intervention.

We're still plugging away at this thing. In the meantime, you can follow The Night Shift at www.thenightshiftmovie.com. You can check out the poster, trailer, cast and crew, and some fun downloads. Heck, if you like, you can even be our friend on Facebook and Twitter (@NightShiftMovie), where you can follow more of the progress of the movie.

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