Ed, along with being a filmmaker and nice-guy extraordinaire, is also a writer (which you probably already knew since I told you he wrote the film...).
For one of the scenes we shot today we were supposed to be pitching a website design to a potential client (my character - Ben - is a web designer), well rather than spending lots of time building a shiny new website full of bells and whistles, Ed went low-budget and used the website of a book he published last year. It's called "Scrooge and Santa". It's a graphic novel (comic book) that's a twist on the classic Scrooge story. I've only read the preview pages that are available on the website, but I have to say - I'm intrigued. I may buy myself a copy for Christmas and have Ed sign it. It'll be worth money some day. :)
My favorite line from the movie thus far also happened today. In a scene where I confront my former boss he uses the phrase, "exerting loins of power." It took everything in me not to laugh every time he said it - and he said it quite a few times.
Also, to make it look like a nice, expensive office, Ed and June set up a big painting behind a makeshift desk. I'm interested to see how the shots turn out.
Lunch = dinner again cuz it was another night shoot as we were in the warehouse again: Little Caesar's Hot-n-ready. Loves me some pizza!
Wrap time: 11:30 ish.
For all office-type scenes in the movie we're using a book warehouse where June and Ed's roommate work. It's a bit of a stretch, but with no budget you take what you can get. It was kind of fun between takes and shots to go exploring and see what was there. I found everything from treatises on Albanian war to scandalous Asian photography, to "Bed time for the Bitty Bunch". I even found a couple of books to add to my "to-read" list.
Since it was a weekday we had to wait to shoot until after business hours. We're doing the same thing tomorrow to finish up all the office scenes.
We shot the very opening scene to the movie today, and I think it's been one of my favorites. It's a moment where I really got to channel my inner awkwardness and just have some fun.
Also fun: Ed had a little cameo today. There's a scene where I talk to a psychiatrist about my rhyming, and Ed played the shrink. He did a great job. Actually, because of the nature of the character and how he played it, he kind of reminded me a little bit of a muppet. I'm supposed to be pretty serious in the scene and it was kind of hard for me not to laugh at him. But I pulled through.
Lunch = dinner: Little Caesar's Hot-n-ready. And boy were we ready!
Wrap time: 11:00 ish.
When you have a low-budget film, sometimes (and by sometimes I mean most of the time) you have to get nice and creative to make things happen. Today's example - church scenes. For some reason the churches that Ed talked to were the least helpful in letting us use their space. Somehow I find that to be 100% ironic. Regardless Ed had to use his good old ingenuity to think of a replacement. The solution: His back yard.
He actually did a pretty good job turning the back patio into a nice wedding scene with some chairs, flowers and a little bit of fabric. We only had 7 extras show up, so not the wedding crowd we'd hoped for, but you make do. Also the groom never came so one of the guests got upgraded. Lucky guy.
We filmed two church scenes in the back yard. The other one was a scene where I go to one of those high-octane churches to get the preacher to slap me in the forehead and thus cure my rhyming. Fun fact: During this scene I forgot to change my pants, so the costume I'm wearing is actually for the end of the film. But it's the same shirt, so we're hoping it won't be too noticeable...even though I just pointed it out...
Shooting happened to run from about 9-3 thus causing me to miss both sessions of General Conference today.
Lunch: Panda - my fortune today said, "An admirer finds you charming."
Wrap Time: 2:30ish
Today was another day with the Triumvirate of Power (That’s me, Ed and June.) Why? I’ll give you 3 guesses…That’s right! MONTAGE! Just kidding. We only got one montage shot – which unintentionally included a sleeping homeless man. When you watch the film if you look really closely you’ll see him sleeping in front of the library – though honestly I didn’t notice him until I was right next to him. He’s a hobo man with a penchant for camouflage.
June was only with us for a minute in the morning, then for the majority of the shoot, Ed and I spent the day filming Ed’s homage to “The Graduate.” Most of you, my few but faithful readers, have probably never seen the film because it has an “R” rating. It’s something of a classic in cinematic circles - it was nominated for something like 7 oscars and is on several "best movie" kind of lists (though to be honest I didn’t care for it). There’s a fairly iconic sequence at the end of the film where Dustin Hoffman’s character goes to the church where Kathrine Ross’s character is getting married to try and stop the happy nuptials. We drove out to Laverne (I know!) where the church sits to get some similar footage for our film. This particular church has been used for several films, and this sequence has been parodied in at least one film that I know of (Wayne’s World). The shots we were mirroring involved me running down the sidewalk up to the church. Mother Nature decided today would be a good day to bump the temperatures back up to infernal levels, so I had some fun doing that – sarcasm.
Incidentally to get to Laverne from LA you have to drive through San Dimas. I was tempted to yell out “Wyld Stallyns!” and rock out on my air guitar, but I refrained.
We ended the day by jumping on a bus filled with Asians, getting off two stops later and walking back to the car.
Lunch: In-N-Out. I asked for a shake in place of a drink with my meal. The cashier asked what flavor. I said, “Surprise Me.” She gave me Neapolitan.
Wrap Time: 2:00ish.
I woke up from Ed's noisy couch bright and early this morning to head downtown for today's shoot. (Incidentally Ed talks in his sleep. Nothing entertaining, or even coherent for that matter, but I remember hearing him mumble.)
We shot all of today's scenes at a quirky little bookstore called "The Last Bookstore" in the heart of downtown L.A. Our scenes pretty much spanned the entire length of the movie - which is still so interesting to me as an actor. You know, not doing things from beginning to end.
Bonus - we filmed a scene where I had to eat a delicious blueberry scone.
I have also decided - and forgive me if I've mentioned this, because it's entirely possible that I have - that most of my part in this movie is me reacting to things. Which, really, is what acting is all about (Thank you Chris Lusk!), it's just interesting. I'm in virtually every scene in the movie and I don't really say all that much. Today was really no different. At one point Ed said, "Alright, do that same thing only slower, I just want to get a bunch of reaction shots from Greg," and I mentioned that we might consider renaming the movie "A bunch of reaction shots from Greg," as that's a large part of what I do.
It will not surprise you to know that I, in fact, do not have a trailer for this film. Incidentally I end up changing where I can find a private corner (and sometimes where I can't find a private corner). I had a number of costume changes at the bookstore and ended up stripping down behind an unused bookcase in the "employees only" section of the store. So adventurous.
Also funny: Since I slept at Ed's house I had to pack everything I'd need for the two days I was away from home. I forgot to pack a pair of shoes I needed and realized it with enough time to run home and grab them before heading out for the night. When I got home, I grabbed the shoes, set them on the kitchen counter to get myself a snack, and in typical fashion, left them sitting on the counter. So, I was walking around the bookstore for much of the morning in unshod feet. See if you notic
Lunch: Baja Chicken wrap at a delightful urban 9th floor cafe above the bookstore. Ed had pastrami - wouldn't have guessed that one.
Wrap time: 1:00
Today was a night shoot and tomorrow morning we shoot SUPER early so Ed was gracious enough to let me crash at his house thus saving me from having to drive all the way home and then back out here first thing in the morning. As I type this I'm sitting on his noisy couch (where I will apparently be sleeping) while he is busily working at his desk. I also just noticed that he has a wedding dress hanging in his room. I'm assuming it's for the wedding scene we're filming later this week, but it still looks funny.
Today was my last day filming with Hobo Jim. He is such an interesting person. Very bombastic and abrasive, but still a very nice guy - and a great bum. The main thing we shot was a scene where, for fun (and mostly because we're both probably more than a little buzzed), we pants a guy standing at the bus stop. Probably the funniest scene to shoot thus far - mostly because we shot it on a pretty busy street and we got some interesting looks from the passersby. Our pants-ee was a good sport about it and I think we got some really good stuff from the scene.
Lunch: Actually it was dinner, Ed got us some Hot-n-Ready pizzas. Mmmm...
Wrap: Don't remember cuz I stayed at Ed's house, but we went to bed around 10:30.
We're half-way done with shooting. I have no response to that.
Today we shot a scene where I meet a big-shot music producer. We used the house of one of Ed's friend's parents. They live in a pretty nice neighborhood and their house was GORGEOUS. Exactly the kind of house I'd like to live in. Spacious, but not too big. It was built quite a while ago, so it has kind of an antique-ish charm. I just loved it.
We just did one scene today, but it was kind of a long scene and we had to get it from a lot of different angles. When a scene has more people - especially if all of those people talk - it takes longer to film because you have to do the scene for every single person, and you'll do several takes for each angle. We ended up running the scene probably 2-3 dozen times just because of all the people we had to incorporate. I think it's interesting to see how the rhythm of a scene develops through that process. It gets tighter and people kind of start exploring and discovering more. It's an interesting argument for more vs. less rehearsal and more vs. less takes. Every director is different in how they approach those things.
Throughout the last 10 days I, personally, have gotten a lot of really positive feedback for this role - both from Ed and from the other actors I'm meeting. It makes me feel that even though I'm in THE big pond in terms of this industry, I can hold my own.
Today the guy playing the big-shot producer said, "You know, when I pictured Ben in my head (Ben is my character's name) you are exactly what I pictured." Ed agreed. I think that's pretty awesome.
Wrap Time: 12:47 (I happened to check)
I think today was our blooper reel day. There were really only three of us shooting today and for whatever reason our personalities meshed really well and we ended up having a lot of fun. There was more than one occasion of someone cracking up in the middle of a scene. Most of the stuff we were filming was pretty serious, so it was hard to keep a straight face the whole day. I think Ed started to get a little frustrated with us, but he's a trooper and didn't let it show.
I once again changed costumes a lot today. I lost count and am currently too tired to try and figure out the exact number of times, just know that my underwear got its vitamin D for the day.
This whole acting every day thing is teaching me some good stuff. Not that there haven't been times before where I've acted every day, but for some reason this is different. I think it's because I'm not doing the same thing every day. Each morning a new adventure starts. I'm learning to control my emotions, my facial expressions, and even my laughter better than I have before. It's very empowering.
Lunch: Panda Express. I got veggies this time. Ed got chow mein and orange chicken - apparently that's what he gets every time. He's a man of order. We learned at lunch that when he eats dinner at home he always has a plain chicken breast and rice. And if he eats lunch at home he PB&J and a banana. Always. I'm excited to go out to different places, just to see if I can guess what he'll get.
Wrap Time: 4:30
Today's shoot consisted mostly of changing clothes. I ended up changing costumes 7 times. We were getting a variety of shots involving the three of us who were there (Me, my roommate Danny, and his girlfriend Sylvia) and everything was shot at Ed's apartment, so we were able to get a lot out of the way, but that meant lots of changing clothes.
I think my favorite moment from the day's adventures was when we were filming in the bathroom and to get the shot Ed and June both had to stand in the shower. Such good times.
Today was also the first day where I had non-rhyming dialogue, which was different. I've sort of associated this picture with rhyming and it was a bit weird to just be saying normal things - albeit in a somewhat nervous frenzy. Still lots of fun.
Fun Fact: Ed has a naugahyde couch. It makes lots of inflating/deflating noise when you sit on it. It also interferes with good sound quality.
Lunch: Subway - don't worry, Ed got the cold cut combo. Also, their raspberry cheesecake cookies are delish.
Wrap Time: 4:30
Today's shoot was a breeze! All we did was montage stuff. I sat on the sidewalk while people walked past (We only had 3 people. Ed's supply of extra's consists entirely of his roommates and June), filmed me walking down some streets, and then headed down to Orange County to get some footage of me sitting by a playground making the mothers uncomfortable. A friend of Ed's lives down there and agreed to bring her kids by to be filmed. It took us all of about 10 minutes to actually film the scene, and about an hour each way to drive there. Go fig. I rode in the back seat of Ed's truck - which is one of those back seats that faces sideways. Remember those? Good times.
After lunch, on the way home we decided to stop and get a couple of extra quick shots for some montage buffer. Just me walking down the street. I walked past this adorable little old Mexican cowboy and just wanted to hug him. Then as we were driving back I spotted a guy with an ice cream cart and thought it might be funny (if a bit absurd) to film me buying an ice cream to ease my sorrows only to have it fall to the ground when I tried to eat it. Ed liked the idea, so we went ahead and shot it. I surprised Ed with my mad Spanish-speaking skills. Ice cream cart guy was not-so-fluent in the Inglais.
Easy day. Loved it.
Since it was such an easy day, now might be a good time to expound a bit upon my feelings regarding this film. I'll try not to get too long-winded here.
I had a bit of a moral dilemma at the outset of this film. As I've mentioned there is some vaguely implied inappropriate behavior and my character drinks quite a bit in the film. A while ago I was having trouble deciding why I was ok with playing a character such as a killer on a show like CSI or Criminal Minds, but I wasn't ok with extra-marital relations and things of that nature. I came to the conclusion that it depends on how those things are portrayed. In a show like the CSI's or L&O's, murder, rape, and things of that nature are still portrayed as wrong, whereas most of the time other things like drinking and schtooping are not. So as long as the portrayal of the character jives with my personal belief system, I'm ok playing that character. Does that make any sense?
Now to a current application. I came to the conclusion here that the things this particular character does that are of a negative nature are due, in large part to his circumstances. (Personally I believe in taking charge a bit more than that, but this character doesn't/can't, and that's ok.) He's sort of driven to the bottle, and in the one scene, as I mentioned, he lacks the courage to speak up against the lady entering his bed chamber. He doesn't necessarily believe these things are good, or even neutral, they're kind of just things that happen to him. In the end of the film he has a prodigal son kind of turn-around, and I felt those ends justified the means. It also helps that Ed is a super-religious guy and even though our personal beliefs don't mesh 100%, he's done a lot to make this a pretty clean film. Little language, and no taking of The Name in vain which I greatly appreciate. He has also avoided as much as possible filming on Sundays. Gotta respect that.
Lunch: 5 guys with what seemed like every corporate goon in Orange County.
Wrap Time: 2:10 ish