Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Night Shift: Correcting the corrector

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.

Correcting the Corrector 

It's always something. The color-correction came in yesterday. I'd really hoped to write that it was gorgeous, amazing, wonderful, brilliant, etc. Instead, it was decidedly ... lacking. I don't know what happened. The artist came highly recommended from a very reliable source (his well-regarded university that shall remain nameless). We explained to him that we had already done the majority of the correction, but that some scenes needed to be evened out, and we wanted an overall polish to the color design already in play. If he had any questions, we were always available, and if he wanted to send some samples along the way, that'd be great.

No samples were sent. We emailed a couple of times to see how things were going, and make sure that everything was on track, and our artist said he was happy with how things were turning out. But no samples. This should have been our sign to worry.

Yesterday, the finished correction arrived, and as soon as we loaded it onto the computer, we realized we had a problem: The file isn't compatible with our editing software. Oh, great. Well, that aside, we started skimming through, just to get a rough idea of how things looked, and quickly noticed that nothing had been done. Well, I shouldn't say that. He did white balance the film. He also took out some of the color that Thomas had intentionally put into a couple of scenes. A sunset disappeared before my very eyes. The artist had not evened out one thing we'd asked him to, and had actually made a few scenes worse. Livid is a term that comes to mind.

We're attempting to contact the artist now to find out exactly what he thought he was doing, and how he intends to fix things. Even if the work had been perfect, it wouldn't matter, because the file isn't compatible (and yes, he knew what software we were using). Oh well, I guess there's just never a dull moment around the Smith's house.

Speaking of excitement, it amazes me what kind of requests fall in your lap when people find out you're a filmmaker. Thomas has had emails from all over the country, asking for his help. One was a request for us to film a fledgling writer's short political satire (a lovely offer, but poor timing, as we were in the middle of filming our own movie). Another wanted us to shoot a documentary about alien invaders because the fellow asking feared for his life and wanted his findings on video (um ... no. If you're scared, why drag us into it, too?).

The most recent, though, I really wanted to do: Design a haunted hayride for a really sweet couple's Halloween wedding. How cool is that?! Oh, I had such ideas! Unfortunately, they live about a thousand miles away, and all of our resources are, well, here. Thomas and I were truly sick over having to pass on that one.

One request we were able to fulfill, though, came from our very own Director of Photography. He's a senior in college, and working on a student film. As is often the case, it seems, some of his cast, crew and locations fell through at the last minute. Thomas and I were happy to lend him our bathroom for a scene, not just because he's a great kid and we want him to do well, but because I got to hear this: "Hey, Thomas! One day, I hope I have a wife who can make fake blood for me!"

Filmmaking is awesome. Now, excuse me while I go and clean red food coloring off of my kitchen counters.

We're still plugging away at this thing. In the meantime, you can follow The Night Shift at 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.