Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Night Shift: Skeleton back into the closet

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.
 
Skeleton Back Into The Closet
 
Tonight, Herbie finds his voice. Soren is recording it as I type. For those who haven't seen the short film, Herbie is a limbless skeleton torso and snappily dressed man about town. He's also our main character's best friend, Jimminy Cricket-esque voice of reason and without argument, the most popular character from the short. He's also a plastic animatronic.
In theory (don't you just love when things start off that way?), one person would work the remote control to turn Herbie's neck, and the voice actor would speak the lines into a microphone. The voice would activate Herb's robotic jaw, and would also emit from a speaker in the skull so his scene partner could hear the lines. Any lines not picked up by the overhead boom mic could later be dubbed in, but we hoped to not have too many of those. In theory.  
Herb's what we liked to refer to as "our Bruce." You know, the shark from Jaws? In our case, instead of, "The shark is not working!" blaring over the megaphone, we heard, "The skull is not working...again!!"

We tried. Lord knows, we tried. Herb was built by a local wunderkind, who could work him like a pro. Unfortunately, the rest of us weren't so adept. It probably didn't help that his head kept popping off and screwing up the circuits and wires - the first of which to go were the ones in the speaker. There went the hope of not dubbing in all the lines.
Herb liked to do impressions of Linda Blair in The Exorcist, and could spin his head completely around - and always at the most inopportune moments. He had wait until we were at the tail end of a miserably long shoot, then derail every take of the last scheduled scene. Other times, he'd refuse to move his jaw, or alternately, he'd decide to move it constantly. I started to think he was possessed. We all started to suggest ways of "off-ing" him. Dynamite was considered. I've worked with some diva actors before, but never one this bad, and he wasn't even sentient! I kept waiting for his trailer to show up so he could huff off and refuse to come out of it.
We all hated that skeleton.  
So, tonight, Herbie gets a voice, and we are done, forever, with his shenanigans. No more searching for super glue to reattach his head. No more covering wires with Play-Doh. No more threatening to leave him in a ditch if he doesn't behave.  
You know, I think I'm going miss the little guy.

AFTERWORD

Well, I thought I'd miss Herbie. Not so much, considering he's still in the trunk of my car. I can't seem to get rid of the little bugger, and heaven help me if I get pulled over. 
"It's okay, officer, that's not a body. It's just Herb."  Yeah, I can see that going over really well.
He's been in my trunk since Halloween. Thomas keeps saying that he'll find a place for him, but I think he's just as sick of the sight of him as I am. The fact that he's been syncing Herb's dialogue to video for three days isn't helping much, either. Luckily, the last little bit of syncing was finished Monday night. 
On a more positive note, we're organizing our first bit of live publicity for the movie! December 10, we'll be in Downtown Mobile, Ala., selling posters and showing the trailer.
As of now, we're planning on showing the trailer that's online, but we're hoping to have a new one that's a little more story-oriented before too long. With any luck, we'll be able to show that one instead. We'll also have some of the principal actors on hand to autograph the posters.  
This is all part of an even to promote local artists, so we're hoping for an enthusiastic turn-out. The more people, the better the pictures I can include with promotional materials to let potential buyers know that folks are interested in this film. Image is everything, and anything that makes us look commercial and marketable is a plus.  
Now, all I can do is sit and wait. Wait on sound, effects and music. Wait on photo-ops. Wait for the finished film. It's almost like being in a hospital waiting room, pacing with a cigar, hoping against hope for 10 fingers and ten toes. The work's hard, but it's the wait that'll kill you.

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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