Just Like That, a week before the first day

It’s exactly a week before the first (of two) day of shooting Just Like That.

There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done before I can call “Action”. In fact, I shouldn’t even be blogging –but because I think you’re an important element to this equation called movie making, let me share with you a glimpse at some of the pre-production pieces that have been addressed.

Lunch break. L-R: Richard Gali (Co-Producer), Joel Hinojosa (Production Sound/Editor), Amy Holsten (1st AD), Thaddeus Setla III (DP), Tasi Alabastro (Co-Producer, Writer, Director)

The last week has been full of phone calls, text messages, e-mails and a handful of in-person meetings. Of one of those meetings, we sat down with our Director of Photography, Thaddeus Setla III. We read through the script, digging into its visual elements and how we we’ll be executing some of the sequences. It’s always an eye-opening experience having to share/show a story that started off as a seed in your consciousness to something you’re physically acting out.

Shout out to SMALLHD.

From our first pre-production meeting we decided that we’ll be using the SONY PMW-F3 camera. Which, if you remember, we used for the feature I was in, Yes, We’re Open. I’m incredibly excited! But just because you have a neat camera doesn’t equate to a good movie –so, I took some of the feedback from that day (and other days) and dove back into some script revisions.

To date, I’m on my sixth draft with minor changes still cropping up. I’d be a fool to think that there’d be a “final draft”. Actions may change once we’re settled into the space, and dialogue might have some tweaks when we’re finally shooting.

“This is where I want the UFO to land..” Okay okay, we’re not making that kind of film…(that’s next year)

If you remember, we had a bit of journey trying to lock down a location but this past weekend we had a chance to do a tech scout of the one we did manage to lock down. We went down with a team of five: Richard, Amy (1st AD), Chris (Gaffer/1st CA), and Cindy (Script Supervisor) each of whom did a bit of tech scouting related to their duties. We located the the outlets, the bathrooms, the breakers, and where the sun will be on any given hour of the day (yep, there’s an app for that).

A panoramic of our location. photo courtesy of Amy Holsten
Chris and I discussing camera action versus actor blocking.
Richard “practicing” his camera and posture skills. Pictured L-R, Tasi Alabastro, Frank (the owner), Richard Gali. photo courtesy of Chris Eldridge

We wrapped tech scouting day with some grub. It’s the least Rich and I can do for the crew. From our last scouting efforts, we stumbled on a nearby cafe which we were eager to introduce to Cindy and Chris. The place is called Garlic City Cafe. They were swamped on this particular day, but luckily we weren’t in any rush.

Stuffed french toast! Nomz.

I ordered the stuffed french toast. I highly recommend it!

I wrapped the pre-production meeting weekend with two of my five actors.

Self imposed barrier between the two of them -Chris Gaoiran and Nila Le, playing Evan and Jaina

We spent a few hours going over the story, opening dialogue as to how they see their characters and how I envisioned them. I think one of the most important piece of work we dove into was the facts about their characters: Who are they? What is their every day life like? Motivations and relationships with the other characters.

Wrapping up the meeting. We all had a better sense of what we’re bringing to the table.

I took away from these meetings some great notes that informed me about the story; It’s crucial with such a short time before shooting to find reinforcements to the ideas that guide the story.

Moving forward, this week is going to be based around finishing the shot list, storyboards, gear & supplies, locking meal plans, shoot schedules, wardrobe, props and refining what the story visuals are going to be. Even further than that, I’m already starting to collect material needed before I can launch the Facebook Page and website.

Want to stay posted? Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog -and you can visit and like our production page http://www.facebook.com/squaremarden.

Did you have a question or comment about the production or story? Or maybe you feel compelled to donate food, insight, or energies…feel free to leave me a comment below or shoot us a Tweet: 

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