Thursday, April 26, 2007

The saga of Lakeside

I realized that I make a lot of idle reference to my short, Lakeside, here, but that I've only given little pieces of the story, and since I do indeed seem to be gaining/have gained a few more readers, it may be as good a time as any flesh some of it out.

I told the beginning in John and I.

The early section not covered there was that I had been seriously trying to develop of western screenplay. There's plenty of notes, a few pages worth of writing and a lot of ideas in my head that are still in mothballs. At that point, I was seriously considering what it would take to shoot a fake trailer as part of a presentation for that project.

At the time "The Hunt" was rejected, in February of 2005, however, the idea of shooting the opening, which had already been originally written as a single comic book issue, had already begun floating around in the back of my mind.

By late summer I had trimmed out a bit of the script, written and rewritten it, with the help of a couple of people, my dear friend Jo, as well as Ryan Allred and Elayne Wylie, who would eventually be part of the "Lakeside" crew. During this time, it floundered about in search of its own title. I had inserted the title "Stutter Kiss" on it, although I was never entirely happy with that and I was happier with it than most people I know. I toyed with a variety of a faux Lovecraft style names as well as "The Ram in the Thicket", which I still love, until my friend Jo threw out "Lakeside", largely because of how many scenes begin "EXT. LAKESIDE - NIGHT".

Ryan came on board around this time with a rather vague job description that had something to do with his role in doing concept art and such. Greg was busy through August with other movie projects.

In August fundraising began. Ryan got some solid concept art. Dominique, my girlfriend and partner, and I began the process of trolling for people to audition for Raven, the lead.

In September, we had the auditions. Ryan, still in a vague visual position, took part under the auspices of the lead actress being a key part of the visual feel of the piece.

The first day of auditions were frustrating. We had a nice room at the University of Washington that Greg had gotten, we were all set up and professional. Unfortunately, there were many no-shows and only a couple of people actually showed. There was one very promising choice, but she seemed unsure if she was willing to make the commitment.

The second day of auditions was much more successful. Two solid new candidates that day, both with decidedly different approaches.

Shortly after that, our candidate from the first day dropped out. She had been more interested in committing to the work, but ultimately was too uncomfortable with the required nudity. She was a very sweet and cool woman, so it was pretty disappointing. However, we'd also gotten a new candidate who had made quite an effort to provide us with a tape.

Callbacks were, well, odd. A scheduling snafu with Greg left us in a basement hallway watching around. This wouldn't have been as big a deal except this was the "prove you'll do the nudity" audition and we were absurdly nervous to pull this off. Our candidates were quite pleasant and game and we made it through.

After reviewing the tapes, we ultimately decided on Rory Isbell. I want to say that if I knew at the end of September what I've come to know since, I wouldn't have even considered anyone else. That would be completely unfair to the other candidates, however, none of whom got the opportunity to put in the dedication and professionalism that Rory has displayed. I will say that she deserves to be a star. Even if I can't make her so, although it's still my open goal, someone else needs to.

The auditions for the male lead were weirder. Cocky, I think, from how well the final results of the female lead, without considering the effort it had taken to get there, I'd not put anything close to the effort in my search. There were three candidates. One bad, one good, one, Wayne Bastrup, was just so dead on great that we didn't bother with a second round or callbacks.

Getting a cinematographer was another challenge. I knew I wanted this movie to have a look. I had talked with a number of people and was genuinely set on one fellow with a terrific resume, but still had one more meeting set, with Amber Low. She and I got along famously at that meeting and she seemed to instantly get what I wanted and we made common references and talked forever. I brought her on right there. I have never been anything but pleased with that decision, even when she and I butted heads on any number of occasions... strike that, especially when she and I butted heads.

Casting our older supporting male character rather fell into my hands. Ken Kreps submitted a head shot for no specific part, having seen a general listing for the movie. And while he didn't look a thing like how I described the character in the script, as soon as I saw him, I could see he was exactly right.

The auditions for the older female character were good, if unstoried. There was one very solid actress and Lydia Bishop, who was unbelievable in her reading.

I'm probably off in my timing here somehow.

The first day was at Greg's house, it's told of in Lakeside Production Diary part 1. It was a strange, hectic and both successful and unsuccessful day, but one of the happiest of my life. Starting a little before this, Ryan's role had increased significantly and I'm quite sure I'd have never gotten to that point without his friendship and hard work in support of the movie. I am also very aware that the day was much less happy for him and that I owe a lot of how well it went for me personally, and as a moviemaker, to how he handled things off set.

After considerable debate and struggle, the second day took place at my mother's house. I wrote about it in Lakeside Production Diary part 2 and there's not much to add to that.

The third shoot, documented at Lakeside Production Diary part 3, may stand as the greatest day of my life. If you've never lit a church in Bava/Argento lighting, I promise, you have no idea what you're missing. Realistically, I wish I'd known to have an assistant director that day and there were shots missed, including a dolly and/or zoom shot that I really would have liked to have had, but in terms of pure joy... Man, oh, man! And, yes, the footage is terrific.

After making that day happen, which was a long, long day and a lot of difficult arrangement in advance, and a variety of personal issues and a lot of issues surrounding each of us making our livings, it was a struggle to launch the fourth shoot, documented at Lakeside Production Diary part 4. Even though I express some frustration in that entry, I think it was even more frustrating than that. This was the day I realized I should have an assistant director. We did make it through and we got everything we need for that.

Day five, Lakeside Production Diary part 5 was more technical and was a great break from the frustration of day four. I think I let myself slack off because of the greater lack of stress and didn't get what I should have out of it.

Day six, I knew was going to be a big deal. It was the last major sequence and we had a very small window in which to get it done. I'll place it next to day three in making me happy, though. It all glowed with evening sun. The actors were great. Having Alisha Geck on as assistant director was a miracle. Well, it's at Lakeside Production Diary part 6, of course.

There were still open/active plans regarding the pick-ups at that point, but after a bit it seemed smarter to see what we have and play it from there. The process of getting there has taken longer than I expected, but I feel very good about the movie itself.

Luck has shined on this project in terms of what gets captured on the camera. Luck and a really wonderful cast and crew. I try to remind myself of that at times when my personal life is difficult or when I become frustrated with the various and complicated delays in post-production. I remain excited about what's been captured, however, as one can tell, I'm sure, by my asides.

Most of all, I remain thankful to everyone who has put in so much hard work, long days and talent into making this happen. In this I hasten to add Dusty Edwards, Justin Minich, Kayobi Tierney and Jason Sondhi, who I didn't have the opportunity to mention throughout this overview, but who certainly brought a lot to what is there and what will be there, not to mention Greg and Jo, both of whose roles are greatly diminished in this overview. And many, many more, but that wasn't really what I'm trying to do here.

It's been an amazing learning experience. Not only will I never work without an assistant director again, I will never work without a firm schedule in place before shooting begins.

I hope everyone involved has good feelings now about the movie, regardless of the difficulties that have occurred. More than that, I hope everyone ends up being proud and happy with the finished movie, which I still expect to make the struggles and waiting worth it, in itself.

I hope you found this interesting... or at least just skipped it in hopes I'd review another movie or talk about boobs again soon... but I thought it was worth covering and I look forward to having more to show for all of this soon.

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