AS SEEN FROM DIRECTOR'S EYES
I went through tons of ADVENTURES when making this film.
Let me tell you just some of my adventures.
This is my perspective. As seen from my eyes.
Here it goes..
It happened one morning!
I was working at my desk, when suddenly an image popped up in my head.
It was an image of something grand - something big - something from outer space - something we have never seen before - shining on top of a mountain, with an old man standing in front of it.. mesmerized by its grandeur!!
Immediately, I picked up a sticky note and wrote the idea: An Old man on top of a mountain looking at something big from OUTER SPACE
From that image, I traced back the story. How did the old man get there ? What does it all mean ?
I wanted the audience to marvel at my creation. Something that they cannot find in any other movie.
Something New. Something Innovative.
I set out to write a movie no one has ever seen before.
When I was done with the screenplay, I realized I needed locations that were unique - varied - BUT also not far way! I knew this won't be easy.
I drove all over the Los Angeles and surroundings. From east of Riverside to West of Malibu - From north of Lancaster to South of Dana Point. I looked up online. I knocked on doors. Even visited some studios, can you believe it ?
No budget for a Location Manager. So I had to do it myself.
Either the Logistics weren't working, or the budget, or it just didn't have the right look!
Nothing was working out ! But I wasn't gonna give up.
After months and months of searching, I finally found the right locations:
In the west, Malibu State Creek Park
In the east, Riverside County
In the south, Silverado Canyon
Now all we have to do is casting, right ?
Yes, there is a huge population of actors in Los Angeles. After all, Hollywood is here!
However, finding the right actor is no where close to easy.
Me and my co-producer literally auditioned hundreds of actors for our three principal characters and one supporting character.
We tried to save money wherever we could.
I had about 4 days to go and yet I only had casted for one principal character and the supporting character.
Finally, I decided to bring in a talented casting director on board. Lessen learned. Casting directors have access to actors who may not have even seen your advertisement. Plus, casting directors already know their strengths, so they will only select specific actors for auditions.
On a Saturday morning, I am auditioning actors for two principal characters (the ones you see in the poster), when I am scheduled to shoot on Monday. Rescheduling was not a option. I was under tremendous pressure. But I keep calm. My mind starts to work faster and better under pressure actually.
Within in couple of auditions, I had the two actors I needed. Yes, casting directors are that talented.
Before casting, people were telling me that my life would be miserable once the actors come on board.
That the actors would throw tantrums, and complain, and make my life hell.
But none of my actors gave me hard time. They were my strength on the set. No matter how many takes it took or how cold it got (read about cold nights below), they were supportive, creative, and did not complain.
Most importantly, they memorized their lines. If they had a suggestion or were having a hard time with a line, they requested me if it could be altered. No changes were made without my permission. This in my opinion is the HIGHEST QUALITY in an ACTOR.
I was lucky to have each one of them on board.
Unfortunately, this is one aspect I don't have spicy stories to tell. Fortunately.
NIGHT BEFORE SHOOTING
I had never been on a professional set prior to this. I had only done home movies. Every single person on the set had more experience than me.
Will they care for what my direction ? Will I even know how to direct ? Will I be nervous on the set ?
I probably thought of these questions for just couple of seconds the night before. Because remember, I was also the producer. So the night before the shooting, I am busy figuring out the logistics than worrying about these things. I wasn't even thinking anything creative. Producing is like setting up a factory for a couple of days to produce a product. It's all technical. But not dull. It's an enjoyable process, it just has lot of pressures, that's all.
But the question still remained. Will I be any good as a director the next morning ?
FIRST DAY OF SHOOTING
I still vividly remember the first day. It was at an exterior location at a decent neighborhood street in Riverside. The first shot was going to be of the main character walking down the street as he comes out of his house.
I park my car at a perpendicular street. I open the door, and as a step out, suddenly I could feel the CONFIDENCE of a MASTER. I am not a master, only a student of cinema. But the confidence I had stepping out of my car was of a master. Where it came from, I don't know. It just did.
As I walk down the street, I meet and greet the crew. I could feel the confidence. I knew what I was doing. I was on a movie set, and I felt right at home.
You cannot direct a movie unless you are this confident. Confidence is paramount.
HOT DAYS OF SHOOTING
PRESSURE IS ON.
Within half an hour of shooting, you realize you don't have the enough time to shoot all the shots you wanted or needed. My First AD constantly tells me we are running behind schedule.
I have actors to inspire. I have cinematographer, costume designer, make up artist, etc. coming at me one after another - sometimes simultaneously - for questions and suggestions. I am making huge creative decisions in a blink. Decisions that can make or break my movie.
I LOVE IT ALL. Working on a HOT THRIVING SET is a LOT of FUN. Trust me.
I have hundreds of things to take care of.
But believe me, once the camera rolls all I am thinking about is what is being captured. I forget all the problems and worries of shooting and running behind.
I am FOCUSED.
COLD NIGHTS OF SHOOTING
We had three back to back night shoots in jungle type of area. One night in Silverado Canyon and two nights in Malibu Creek State Park.
Nights are the worst, because a lot of time goes in the setup. People get tired faster as well. I don't remember anyone complaining, but I am sure people got tired.
It was FREEZING COLD in September. We did anticipate it to be cold so we had heaters and extra covers for the actors. People would huddle around the heaters whenever they could with a hot coffee in their hands.
I remember the last night. My First AD tells me that we really only have one hour left for shooting, and I am not even done with half the shots.
I will not have a movie. All will go in vain. Good or bad, you need all the shots for a complete film.
I had to make a crucial decision. Which shots to take, which ones to let go of. There is no way I would be able to tell the audience that I ran out of time. They will look at my movie, and say it looks rushed. I had to do it in such a way that it doesn't feel rushed.
As I flip through the shot list and storyboards, my hands are shaking heavily. Not because of nervousness. I wasn't nervousness at all. I don't know why. But because of COLDNESS. I said to my First AD that I need to sit in a car with a heater on, because I am unable to flip through these pages. He thought this was a bad idea since we were running out of time and going to the car meant losing 10 extra minutes. He was right, but I was also right. So I went to my car, turned the heater on, and started to flip through the pages.
Remember, I said earlier that my mind works faster and better under pressure ?
Well, within minutes I knew exactly which shots to take, in what order, and modified a few things.
And I was on schedule. hahah..