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Saturday, 11 August 2007
48 Hours: Hours 4 to 28
Topic: Makin' Movies

Saturday (continued from Friday's entry)

Midnightish: Scott now asks me to write up all the notes and send them to Don, whom he has contacted about writing a script. I tell Scott that since it's my idea and I heard all the brainstorming, I'd like to take a stab at writing it, and then will send that to Don, and he can clean it up or totally rewrite it if he deems fit.

1 a.m.: I send Scott to bed in hopes he'll get some sleep. I face the blank page in Final Draft. I have to figure out what the characters should be based on the actors available, and we have two interior locations lined up, plus we can do a guerrilla shoot outdoors somewhere. The film has to be between 4 and 7 minutes. With these parameters in mind, I start writing.

3:05 a.m.: I finish my draft of what is called "Secret Identity". Wow am I tired. I can't even tell if it's funny!

3:30 a.m.: Finishing some notes about the script, I shoot it off to Don. I collapse onto the air mattress Scott set up for me.  I actually have a tough time going to sleep. The brain is still spinning.

6:45 a.m.: I'm blearily awake. Scott, who barely slept, has already received the script back from Don and emailed it out to the crew. Apparently, Don didn't totally rewrite it. I guess even at 3 a.m. I don't suck at writing. But the title's been changed to something better, now it's "Secret Identity Crisis".

8 a.m.: After picking up five gallons of coffee and two dozen pastries at Peets, we arrive with the grip truck to the first location: Casey's nightclub. Scott's plan is to shoot the scenes that take place in the bar first, then shoot the opening action sequence, then finish with an evening shoot at a house.

Our first monkey wrench: no one is there to unlock the location as promised, and Scott keeps leaving voice messages. Kelly and  Janet and I take a quick survey of the various bits of athletic gear and clothes that have been brought as possible super suit elements, then we hurry off to a local discount store that opens early. We find little shorts to be worn atop the tights, a great jacket we can adapt for our villain's tunic, gloves, and some odds and ends. We then stop at Janet's and grab some costuming bits she has, including a cheap Vegas-era Elvis costume.

9 a.m.: We return to find the crew has moved to a nearby park in front of an official looking structure. Since the nightclub location's still not opened, the plan is to shoot the action sequence first. As the camera crew sets up everything to shoot, we madly scramble to cobble together the super suits for our hero Solar-Man (Kyle) and his arch nemesis Ice Meister (Bill). We throw everything but the kitchen sink at the costumes. I'm using art tape and colored electric tape to add details, sticking rubber appliance feet (don't ask) over unwanted branding on Kyle's shirt, and fitting aluminum appliance knob covers to Bill's jacket chest and to cover the branding on the backs of the gardening gloves.  Kyle's arm covers are red socks we slice the feet from. Ka-razy!

Supervillains aren't born...they're made!

10 a.m.: Shooting is underway, but it's slow going. The early hour means the sun is shifting in such a way that the shadows from the building in the background are moving a lot, and the actors marks have to be cheated to keep them out of glare. We have to deal with gawkers driving by (sometimes in shot), and then there are funny little costuming problems. Kyle's goggles are constantly fogging up, and the silver discs on Bill's gloves tend to pop off mid-take during action!

Lunchtime: The nightclub location is finally open, so we hurry over there to set up.

Unfortunately, it's not soon enough for one of our actors, Illya, who has to depart with his scene unfilmed. Something will have to be figured out to get around this. 

The nightclub is fairly large, with an upstairs and a downstairs bar, a pool table near the door, and booths. Depending on how we set up, it could serve as a bar or a cafe or even a restaurant. Since the script calls for a bar, we haul the equipment downstairs to that bar and start figuring out how to set up. I'm technically the Property Master and well as the de facto Art Director, so I have to "dress" the set. I arrange bottles and glasses, set up the bottle and drinks for the action (loaded with water or iced tea). I convince Scott that one white wall is much too blank and that they need to break up the light on it with a "cookie". They do that, and also move an animated light fixture to project onto said wall. Someone brings down a gay pride flag, and I tape that to the wall. That finishes it!

After we all scarf down sections of a six foot sub Scott had delivered, we're back to business and the shoot resumes.

Jenny—who plays Sheila the bartender—has some trouble remembering her lines. She's also not quite getting the character as written. I wrote "pushy" and she's playing it too nice. There's a half dozen extras in the scene, in the background and walking through a few shots. Kelly is recruited to play the non-speaking role of the D.J. in the booth in the background, but as the afternoon progresses the black mesh on her outfit's top starts to tear, and we literally hold her outfit together with black gaffer tape!

Mid-afternoon: With the first bar scene wrapping up, Scott pulls me aside and tells me we have a problem. Since our morning shoot got all rearranged because the club wasn't available, we're behind schedule, and we're not even done at the bar, yet. He says it'll take at least an hour to repack all the gear in the grip truck, then the time to get to the next location and set up again. There are TWO setups required there (interior and exterior), plus costume and makeup changes. I also learn that we lose Bill (Ice Meister) at 9:20 tonight. Scott says that if we don't figure out a way to shoot the rest of the film at the bar, we're liable to not finish before we lose Bill! He basically drops it on my shoulders to figure out how to change the script.

After nearly snapping at our D.P. when he gets on me for getting the bar dressed for the next shots,  I put Scott's problem aside long enough to take care of the needs of the next scene. That done, I grab a copy of the script and go back to a corner and start rewriting. I have several problems that aren't easily solved, because a big reveal is tied to a costume gag that I now can't do.  I struggle with this, but in what seems like 15 minutes I have my rewrite. I try to preserve as much dialogue as was in the previous draft so as to minimize the memorization task for the actors.

This is also the first chance I've had all day to look at the script Don sent back. He hardly changed anything...just a few words here and there. One change I don't like so much, but it's not important enough to fight for.

Late afternoon: The script change requires that the final scene take place in the bar at closing time. As such, the set has to be redressed and the lighting changed. The extras aren't needed for the final scenes so they're all thanked and kicked out. While this occurs, one part of the crew sets up to do an insert shot of Solar-Man's goggles falling to the floor, while most of the crew grabs one light and goes upstairs to shoot Roy's entrance into the bar. This is done all with handheld camera work to speed things up. A big gag here involving the required balloon prop gets changed because we lost Illya, who had been willing to play the scene naked except for a strategically placed balloon, and the guy who is talked into taking the part isn't willing to go that far for his art.

Evening: The bar's been transformed for the final scene. A pile of bottles and glasses covers the bar where our principles are to be seated, and a Kino fluorescent light has been mounted against the ceiling overhead to stand in for non-existent house lights when the lights come up as the bar is closing.

Scott asks me if the actors have been running their lines, and I point out to him that he hasn't even read the new ending to see if it's what he wants to shoot. He grabs my shoulders and says "I trust you", so script supervisor Brandon and I talk, he makes handwritten copies of my changes, and Bill and Kyle retreat to the D.J. booth to rehearse for 20 minutes. Then it's back on set.

It becomes a bit of a blur after that. They run the dialogue and do a pretty good job at it given the last minute changes.

A new gag requires Ice Meister (in his alter ego) to freeze a glass, thus revealing his true identity to Solar-Man. There's no time to actually freeze a glass, so one idea is to use a fog machine in the club to drop vapor onto the glass. Great idea, but the machine won't work. Finally, someone goes to the grip truck and comes back with a chemical fire extinguisher which is used to shoot white powder into the glass with a resulting cloud that looks like vapor. It looks great, but after several test shots the bar is covered with gray dust and the air is suddenly atmospheric with something I don't think we want to be breathing.

Some final action weirdness. The animated disco light can't really be shut off when the lights come up, so it's necessary to drop a flag (black card) in front of it on cue. I volunteer to sit on the floor and do this. Then, as the action is rehearsed, we find the actors keep bumping into their barstools, so myself and another guy also take on the task of yanking the stools away when the actors stand up.  Here I am, sitting on the floor, blocking a light and then crawling over to pull a bar stool out from under a grown man. Glamorous ain't it?

Since all the extras were dismissed, Kelly is told to ad lib a good night as she—as the D.J.—exits, so now she has a line: "Sheila, I'm out!"

Oh, and Illya's back. There's no more speaking he gets a walk-on as the janitor sweeping up.

The last hurdle: The script calls for the two characters to embrace, and in rehearsals it's a hug, and it just doesn't work. The only way this works is if they kiss, but our two male leads are both straight. Scott talks to them, but they're both pros and express no problem doing it. Kelly cheers after each take. I guess she likes seeing men kissing.

Most of the Crew as we wrap (Kelly's taking the picture)

8:20 p.m. That's a wrap!  Photography hour before we'd lose Bill. The next hour or so is spent packing up all our gear and cleaning up the mess we made in the bar.  I daresay we may even have left it cleaner than we found it!

The end of the night: Goodbyes said, a few of us retire to find some food. After some pizza and beer we go back to Scott's to grab a little sleep while we can. Brendan's off capturing the video from the mini DV tapes to a hard drive, so there's nothing to be done until the footage arrives.


Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:54 PM PDT
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Friday, 10 August 2007
48 Hours: Hours 1 to 4
Topic: Makin' Movies


God's Country

A billboard on the roadside of I5 somewhere out of Grants Pass, OR features a man at one end, and then morphs him over several frames into a chimpanzee on the opposite side. The billboard reads, "Are they trying to make a monkey out of you?" as lists a website of

If that wasn't enough, surfing the radio gets me a whole lot of religious music stations...more than any other kind.

Clearly, Toto and I aren't in Kansas any more...or maybe we are and that's the problem.

But Back to where it started...

The 48 hours of the title of this and the following posts starts officially at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

The day starts early as I leave my motel in Grants Pass and drive the final four hours or so to Portland. There I meet Scott Cummins at his apartment. We quickly hurry out to get lunch at the Widmer Gasthaus pub (home of Widmer Hefeweizen) and starts discussing strategies for the 48 Hour Film Project.

7:00 p.m.: Scott and I meet up with Bert, our Director of Photography (D.P.) and arrive for the kickoff of the 48 Hour Film Project. There are something like 53 teams signed up. I quickly see how this works. Teams are divided into groups, and then reps for each group are called forward to draw a genre out of a hat. There is only one instance of each of the 14 genres in the hat, so for each group only one team will end up with a given genre. I have a great idea for Buddy Picture, so I sort of want that one.  Scott, on the other hands would love to get Superhero, but has said previously that he knows he'll never get it.

Scott nearly explodes with delight when he draws our genre: Superhero!


7:30 p.m.: Next all the teams are given 3 elements they must include in their films, this to prevent people from submitting films they made previously. The elements are:

1. Character: Roy or Rachel Schwarz (no T), a Quality Control Expert

2. Prop: A Balloon

3. Line of Dialogue: "Do you smell what I smell?"

8:15 p.m.: We've relocated to the Kennedy School (an old school that is now a series of bars and restaurants to meet much of our team. Here I meet actors Kyle, Bill, Jenny, Illya and Harold, as well as our makeup tech Janet, location manager Kelly, and Script Supervisior Brendan. Scott anounces the genre and elements, and over dinner and drinks a lot of ideas are kicked around. The main idea that comes up is about a sort of DMV of superheroes, where Rachel Schwarz is rating heroes and failing them. Out of this come a couple of gags, including Bill's suggestion of the name Walter Ego.

Me with Kelly. Geek Girl Extraordinare!

Midnight: After a conference call with Dave in Minnesota—in which he suggests the villain have a line "Hello? Lawyer?" to describe how he's evil in his day job—we become concerned that the DMV of Superheroes gag is too obvious. Three different people on our team independently hit on the idea, and this worries us because of that many of our team hit on the idea, it's possible a team in one of the other groups did, too, and since we're in the last group, ours would be the last to be seen. We also kicked around ideas for a dramtic story, but nothing gelled. So, I make the case for the idea that struck me a week or so ago, in which two guys meet in a gay bar and hook up, not realizing that they are actually arch nemesis superhero and super villain in their alter egos. Scott agrees that it's unlikely anyone else will try it, so we agree to go that way.

Now, there's just the small matter of, oh, a screenplay...


Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:54 PM PDT
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Thursday, 9 August 2007
Road Trip (retrospective)
Topic: Vacation

I5 through central CA is one boring road boring I'm not going to write anything about it, save to say I'm very grateful for cruise control, Podcasts on my iPod, and the AC which makes me forget the 97F outside temperature that my car's video screen constantly displays.

So, why am in on this enless stretch of gray asphalt in the middle of August?

A few weeks ago I was told by Scott Cummins—who directed Starship Exeter: The Tressaurian Intersection—that he'd gotten a team together to enter the 48 Hour Film Project when it lands in Portland. I immediately volunteered.  Scott told me I'd be the Property Master.

So here I am, en route, with the car loaded with as much stuff as I could fit that I thought might be useful: tripod, varizoom controller, christmas tree lights, odd goggles, art tape, leftover construction elements from the Flight Control set, etc., etc.

I'm not usually much for driving long distances. In most cases I prefer to fly. But, as I'd never been to Oregon before nor could I put all the stuff I had with me in airline bagage, it made sense to hit the highway.

After dinner in Redding I push on north. The scenery gets more interesting as I5 approaches Oregon, but the upper half of Mt. Shasta's lost in the clouds, so I don't get a good look.

I wasn't planning to push on all the way to Portland today, figuring I'll drive until I get tired and then find a motel somewhere.  I cross into Oregon, pass Ashland, gas up in Medford, and decide to do one last half hour and call it a night in Grants Pass.

I figure I'll read for an hour, but I turn on the TV out of curiosity and discover the AMC show Mad Men that Jim was telling me about. It's about an advertising agency in 1962. I get sucked in, enjoy it, decide I'll have to see more, and then I'm out like a light.

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:55 PM PDT
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Friday, 13 July 2007
Friday the 13th
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: Just Cause...

Nothing bad happened.  Get it?  Nothing...bad...happens!


And the full moon doesn’t affect you, either.




Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:55 PM PDT
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Friday, 6 July 2007
What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas
Mood:  silly
Topic: Vacation

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
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Thursday, 5 July 2007
Breakfast in Bleaksville
Topic: Vacation

Knowing I was coming to Vegas for a while, I had chatted up a few locals via the net to see if there was anyone worth hanging out with.  Of the guys I chatted with, one fellow named Keith seemed a sane enough fellow, so, I met up with him and two of his friends and went to breakfast at a local restaurant some distance from the strip.

Now, mind you, I grew up in Vegas, and I lived in BFE Northern Nevada for far too long, but I cannot for the life of me see what the attraction is of Vegas.  Once you get outside the tourist trap that’s the Strip, it’s just endless suburban sprawl, Houses, too few trees, and sandy empty lots between neighborhoods.  Bleak bleak.

Keith returns me to the Strip where I meet up with a buffet-stuffed Matt and Diana at the Bellagio.  We almost go into a Picasso ceramics exhibit there, but end up moving on.

It’s still hot. Not as bad as yesterday, but still up there. 

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007 2:07 AM PDT
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Wednesday, 4 July 2007
Independence Day
Topic: Vacation
My week’s vacation shifts into actual “holiday” mode today, as I join my friends Matt and Diana for 3 days in Sin City. Ok, I have to say’s fraking HOT.  The temperature hit degree short of the record for this time of you.  Jennifer was right when she described being in Vegas like “living in a blow drier.” We’re staying at the Mirage, so we cab over, check in, then hit the buffet for brunch.  Four plates of food later I’m ready for a nap...but the room’s not ready yet, so we wander.  First stop: watching a white tiger from behind a very thick plexiglass wall. We step outside to make our way to Caesar’s.  Did I mention it was hot?  We while away the afternoon in air-conditioned luxury, clothes shopping.  Got a couple of nice new shirts. 

Red Square at Madalay Bay was our spot for pre-dinner refreshments. We had some lovely Vodka drinks, but no cuisine inspired us.  We ended up at...


...New York New York it’s a Heck of a Loud place.  Had a decent dinner and decent tequila at the Mexican place there. Finally, we end up at the Imperial Palace where Matt and Diana gambled.  Me? I grew up in Las Vegas and Nevada, so gambling has zero interest for me.  I bid them good night and head to my hotel room.


The temperature at midnight? 90F


Did I mention it was hot?

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:56 PM PDT
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Tuesday, 19 June 2007
Shut Up & Enjoy It
Mood:  irritated
Topic: Vacation

You can love your friends and still want to hit them with a shillelagh (

There are some things you just can’t share with people who are not like minded.

I can be quite the talker, I admit. When I have something I’m interested in and passionate about, I can ramble on with the best of them. On the other hand, I can also be pretty quiet, especially in a place where there’s a lot to see, like, say, Yosemite yesterday.

You’d think we were trekking up a mountain, in the Sahara Desert, after having no water for a week, for all the complaining I endured over a measly mile hike down and then up 400 feet over a span on a mile each way. Numerous comments were made about how stupid it was to do a hike without water.  To put things in perspective, this walk was the equivalent of walking to Tommy’s and back, only slightly more steep in a few places, and with no Margaritas at the bottom.

Who knew humans were so fragile?  What an idiotic culture we live in where people believe they can’t walk a few miles without a life support system.

Coming back up is going to be hard!
Argh! I’m being bitten!
They always tell you to take water when you’re hiking.

Bitch bitch bitch.

There seemed to be less concern about the wild bear we saw than a lack of a pint of water. There’s a lack of perspective for you...

Wanna hike with me?  Here’s some guidelines.

1. Drink it in.  If I believed in God, this is one of those spots where you’d think he/she/it had kissed the Earth.  Soaking it up. It’s not like you see this every day. Quit yammering on about pointless drivel and appreciate where you are. If you can’t, stay home.

2. Stop your grousing.  You’re gonna get winded. You’re gonna be hot. You might even get a few bug bites. You might not have a drink for a little while. Life’s not all escalators, air conditioning and screen doors. Enjoy that fact.

But some people are never going on a real hike with me, water or no water.


Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007 2:12 AM PDT
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Monday, 18 June 2007
Badgers and Mule Deer and Bears, Oh my!
Topic: Vacation

It's been a long time since I set foot in Yosemite, other than stopping for a moment on my way through.  In fact, I can't recall a single substantial visit since the early/mid 90s. Stupid, considering how close it is (4 hours to the Valley), and how much I like it there.

Two of the members of my road trip had never been before, so I decided to spend a few hours in the park before we headed back towards the Bay. 

Here's how the day went, in brief bites...

Bye Bye BFE: Hawthorne's so small that even gassing up the car at 7 a.m. I run into people I know...specifically, my brother in-law, on his way home from the graveyard shift.

Breakfast: At Nicely's in Lee Vining, CA, next to Mono Lake.  Mmmmm...biscuits and gravy

Tioga Parties: Bad jokes about "Tioga parties" abound as we drive up and through Tioga Pass (elevation el. 9,943 ft. / 3,031 m); portal to Yosemite from the Nevada facing side.

The High Country: First stop is Tuolumne Meadows (pronounced "too-all-oh-mee"), which is not far into the park's eastern end. I've stopped there before, but never really hiked around, so I decided to stroll the ½ mile to Soda Springs.

High points: dipping my toes into the Tuolumne River, and following an animal which we jokingly referred to as a "beadger" (not beaver nor badger), but which, on reflection, was probably a marmot.

A Wet One: shortly down the road from Tuolumne Meadows I pull over at Tenaya Lake. Ever since I went to New Zealand in 2002 I like to not just look, but immerse myself in places I visit.  At Tenaya Lake, this takes the form of wading in the surprisingly temperate (for a mountain lake) water.  Ahh... refreshing!

View from the Top: Shortly up the road from Tenaya Lake I pull out to Olmsted Point, a spectacular view of Tenaya Lake, Tenaya Canyon, Clouds Rest, and-most impressively-Half Dome, peaking (I meant that word) up from a not-yet visible Yosemite Valley. Clambered over the rocks here to get some photos of each other. I love this spot!

The long down: Highway 120 down towards the Valley is a 45 minute gauntlet of trees, the view of which no one but me really seemed to appreciate very much.

Grin & Bearing It: Spotting the Tuolumne Grove pullout, I did just that, and we hiked down the one mile and 400 feet in altitude to the grove, through a beautiful old forest of white fir, Douglas-fir, sugar pine, and incense-cedar. At the bottom, half the party went into the grove and the other half walked all that way for nothing, since they sat at a picnic table instead of doing the couple of hundred yards through the "Sequoia Gigantea", thus missing out on the change to walk along, atop, and crawl though one of these fallen giants. Their loss.

Highlights: we saw a bear in the trees at a bend in the path. We heard then saw baby birds in a small hole in the side wall of a tunnel tree. We saw a mule deer doe on the return loop. Hope the bear didn't find her!

Lowlights: See the next entry!

Flattened Cranes: Knowing we'd probably not be having a full meal until after leaving the park, I pulled into the Crane Flat rest area. An ice cream bar, egg salad sandwich, water and one Lunchables later, I felt ready for the rest of the afternoon. The name of Crane Flat led to a series of smart-aleck comments about various flattened wildlife, mostly from me.

The Valley Floor:

Too many people at Bridalveil Falls, so I didn't stay at the bottom long.  I led my party back along the path, then took a detour to wade in the stream flowing down from the falls. It was 97°F, so, whew, did that feel good! I sat on a rock in the stream and enjoyed the cool. As at Tuolomne Grove, half of my little party didn't join in this. Again, their loss!

As we drove towards Half Dome, we pulled over to gawk at some Mule Deer. Four of them. Two bucks and two does. No bears this time.

Exit, stage west: Our brief tour of the Valley over, I set the Prius for points west.

Sushi: Not a conversation. More a dissertation on it. Not everyone found this appetizing.

Cooing o'er Cows: Someone in the car likes cows. We saw a lot of them. We heard a lot of "awww"s.

No Chains Required: Upon reaching the outskirts of the East Bay, it was suggested that we stop in Livermore or Dublin to get dinner. After it turned out there wasn't a Marie Callender's for 30 miles, there was a consensus about going to an Applebee's. Once we got there I recalled why I never go to these places.  The menu is...bland. S.F. has spoiled me for restaurants.

Cool sweet cool: Arrive back in my neck of S.F. It's 59°F. That's a 38° drop from afternoon in Yosemite.

It's good to be home.

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:56 PM PDT
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Sunday, 29 April 2007
Retro Entry -- Clothing Optional
Topic: Just Cause...

Just found a note I'd scribbled on a receipt Saturday December 16, 2006 in Berkeley. I was trying on clothes at Shoka. One pair of jeans elicited the following from friend-cum-fashionista, Becky:

 "Where did your ass go?"

 No sale.

Posted by molyneaux at 8:43 PM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:57 PM PDT
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