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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

Man-Away and Daddy's Girl

February 18, 2007
Daddy's Girl
My friend Jennifer and I had been working towards producing a number of short subject films for an upcoming local film festival. The film festival was being created in relation to an industry networking group to which she belonged and to which I'd recently joined a couple of weeks earlier. The shorts' time restriction per short was to be three minutes (of story content), with an end-credits allowance of an additional thirty seconds where applicable. Jennifer has written a few of the shorts, her then-friend Heather had written a few, and I have written a few scripts as well. As the deadline for submissions was deathly close, we had been working feverishly to get as many of the projects done as possible; no mean feat when we were pretty much broke, so those working with us would be working for copy and credit. We were also come up against lack of equipment (camera, lights, et al).
I brought on board my friend Tad Atkinson, to be director at least for one of my scripts (two of which were accepted by the group for us to make), and he not only volunteered to help on other projects, Tad brought along (to my slight surprise), Rich Owen who had initially indicated little interest in assisting in any of our projects.
Understandably, Rich wished to focus on making features, and I was pleased he came on board as not only was he resourceful, the gregarious Rich usually is also utterly hilarious, with a biting satiric wit. Rich was interested in working with and/or directing most of the scripts, and for my thriller Daddy's Girl Rich provided us with a director of photography (DP), as well as the location for the first sequence of the two scene, two character film. On the night of the scheduled shoot however, Tad, Rich, Ryan Yerrick (one of Rich's friends/staff), Jennifer and I were at the location, and the DP never materialized.
The same with the second attempt, a re-scheduled night... no DP.
It was beginning to look bleak when, Sunday evening, after my spending the day with friends in Pasadena to celebrate the Chinese New Year (of the Boar), I found Jennifer's place dressed up as a set. The night before (when I was unavailable), they had filmed one of Rich's scripts, also to be submitted to the festival. A comedy, starring Tad and Jennifer, Rich brought his own camera and acted as DP as well. It was discovered too late that Rich managed to neglect to switch on the camera's microphone, so essentially they had filmed a silent movie.
Jennifer was slightly amused at this: I suggested they could ADR the bulk of it, and as one sequence is a montage sequence of Tad's fantasy, that footage could remain silent, with music running. Jennifer related that the night of the shoot, Rich had neglected to bring along a hardcopy of the script, so the three all knew the straight-forward story, but that she and Tad had had to improvize their lines, and so ADR would be a bit problematic.
But at least that project's principal photography was In The Can, so to speak, and most likely if necessary, they could re-shoot it quickly.
Heather's friend James was returning to the industry after a hiatus, and claimed he would work on a few of our shorts, not only for copy and credit, but towards his own DP Demo Reel. As we prepared, Tad and Rich and Ryan arrived at Jennifer's place almost on my heels, and James arrived a bit later. Rich scheduled the shoot to film the second sequence first, as it was at Jennifer's place, as James had indicated wishing to film at the first location, then leave.
So we filmed the climactic scene first, then headed to the first-scene location, where we filmed until 10pm (the latest time we could film there). It turned into flat-out guerilla filmmaking, using the location without the facility's knowledge or permission, but we got it done. There was a stairwell we used at the very end for me to ADR my first lines (as they were scripted to be off-screen). The stairwell gave the lines great natural reverberating resonance.
It's an odd thing: when I read a book or I write something, I see it in my head as though watching a film. Yet invariably the cinematic result of the same material seems to be the reverse of how I'd visualized it. Here as well, the camera placement and action was near mirror image of what I would have expected to see. It doesn't hurt anything; I figured it would still look great. It's just interesting I never seem to pre-visualize such in my head the way someone else might film it.
Initially Jennifer and I were to have my brother Alan, back east, do the editing for my scripted short/s, but James had "requested" (eg, sort of took it as read), that he would edit them. I had no issue with this as Jennifer had already reported James had shot one of Heather's scripts, and had it completely edited within one or two days. My brother Alan would be doing the film's background music score.

February 24, 2007
Years earlier, my friend Jennifer got out of a very bad relationship with a fellow named Dan. Dan started out okay, but as time went on it was clear he was verbally abusive. Finally she kicked him out of her life, and announced it to her friends in a celebratory mass-sent email.
My congratulatory response was a comical script satirizing commercials, in which Jennifer's friends come by and notice the house is Dan-free, at which Jennifer reveals she used new "Dan-Away," etc., and the closing shot would be of the repelled Dan, unable to get closer to the apartment, across the street in a garbage can, muttering the snarled, "Damn you, 'Dan-Away'..."
Jennifer found it hilarious.
Then after some time, Jennifer fell out with another boyfriend, she finally believed she had to flee her own home, taking with her her two dogs that she claimed he had openly threatened to kill.
Once again I wrote another "commercial," as a follow-up spoof (as though from the same product line), this time consisting of a warning sign door that squirts an unwelcome suiter with a synthetic skunk spray into his face.
When we were writing and submitting our script/s to be made for the film festival, with Jennifer's approval, I submitted the Dan-Away script and the latest one, changing the later boyfriend's name at her request.
It had been suggested that instead of two commercial-spot satires, we make a short that would combine the two products, creating a narrative storyline. I quickly managed to concoct the Mr. Wizzard storyline, using the classic fantasy concept of the Curio Shop That Has Everything (generally items with mystical properties): the sort of store in which one might find the Monkey's Paw, or some haunted object or such. I wrote Wizzard for myself and retained Jennifer, renaming her character as Jessica, and decided if these were from a specific product line, the line would have to have a name. So Man-Away came into being; products to rid women of their unwanted beaus, particularly those whose reason may be too impaired to take a break-up hint.
As I love story-twists, a la Robert Bloch's and Frederick Brown's short stories, as well as for a little balance, I added the tag joke-button that men may not be the only problem...
I got a call on Tuesday or Wednesday that we would be filming Man-Away that weekend. I was under the impression it would be two weeks hence, and we still needed a curio shop for a location.
Remembering an episode of the HBO series Dream On, in which Pan Pipes Magickal Marketplace, right in Hollywood, was used as a location, I figured I could ask if they'd be open to it, and I emailed them.
Jennifer and I heard back from the store's co-owner Jymie Darling, with the obvious understanding of copy and full credit. The end credits credit the store, its owners, provide the store's web site... and its cat (who gets a cute li'l cameo). We we could film in the store from 6am to 11am (the store opens at noon Saturdays).
As it was, we got all our filmed shots done and we were out by about 10am. After a quick bite at Denny's, ironically the same Denny's at which Jennifer first really got together with the script's real-life Dan, we headed back to Jennifer's for her-place scenes.
Tad played Dan. As we filmed his quick bit, a squirrel (in the same tree from behind which "Dan" is as close to the apartment house as he can get), comically kept trying to figure out how to get down from the tree, what with Tad in its way. The agile rodent (the squirrel, not Tad...), occasionally jumped to another tree, but on coming down, Jennifer and I were in its way there as well. Finally on another attempt, we just had Tad stand clear enough for the squirrel to hop down and run to the other next tree over, to which was just out of reach for it to jump.
I had renamed the second boyfriend in the piece David, as it was a pretty innocuous name. I knew exactly who I wanted to play the role: my friend Mike Beardsley, as I was well aware of his talented excellent comic timing. Michael played Humphries in the TV series Freaks and Geeks and whom I met working with him on Dude, Where's My Car?
Michael accepted not only as a good friend, but as many of the student films and indie projects on which he works, he generally plays nerdy,psycho, and/or sociopath characters. He was pleased to get in some good comedy work. Initially, I had partially considered Mike to play Scott, Mr. Wizzard's store assistant, but brought up to Jennifer who Michael has a slight resemblence to the litigious second boyfriend... On seeing his photos at his website, she almost freaked out, definitely insisting he play David, as there'd be no way she could kiss him, as the script included (it was decided that the scripted kiss not be filmed, mostly due to time constraints both filming and the completed short's running time).
Characteristically early, as am I for shoots and such, Michael arrived for his scene, and he and I caught up, as the rest filmed the first scene in the apartment of one of Jennifer's neighbours... and after a few minutes Michael and I realized we didn't know precisely into which apartment they'd gone. (Without my input, this is why the opening scene looks less commercial-spot satire than it was scripted to look.)
Soon they were back and we set up for Michael's scene. One pre-production aspect we'd considered, and about which we'd completely forgot, was to do up a notice for neighbours, notifying/warning them of a film shoot going on during this day (in which there'd be some shouting). As it was, as Michael storms up and shouts through the closed door at "Jessica," one neighbour actually called 911. Thankfully she learned almost immediately it was a film shoot, and called back 911 to apologize. As it was she turned out to have given the cops the wrong apartment number anyway, so while they might have spotted us filming, had the cops arrived and we were not about... some neighbour would have been very surprised [bg]....
As I know just how funny Michael Beardsley can be, he didn't disappoint. His segment was far more slapstick than the rest of the film, and looked so wonderfully painful that director Rich Owens had to hold his mouth to keep from laughing during each successive take. At one point the DP James asked Rich if that was enough [takes]. Rich replied quietly but mischievously, "Let's have him do it one more time... just to watch'im do it..."
There was one more important aspect to record: Michael's character needed to be sprayed in the face.
The script called for multiple streams, but on a practical level this was reduced to one. At first, Rich squirted Michael with a tiny stream from a squirt bottle. This clearly would not be read on screen, and I recommended we go for bigger. Micheal, knowing (and understanding) what I'd written, and (understanding comedy), "suggested" we Try Both Versions (knowing it would look better and be accepted), so after a few takes of Rich's negligible tiny squirts, I set up the Bigger Version.
I took a 24 ounce water bottle, added a packet of orange Kool-Aid (that normally would make a gallon), and with the camera rolling and Action called, I blasted Mike dead-on in the face. All but choking from laughter, Rich concurred the bigger blast looked better. We were done and wrapped by 4:30pm'ish.
As Jennifer's wonderful but somewhat insistent dog Champ has "issues" being closed up in the back with no one there, I had to be back there to keep him quiet. To my, well, horror, the scene I'd written of her likeable, sympathetic character Just Sitting There, finally relieved that her boyfriend has departed, the camera focusing on the product's box and its listed features and properties, Jennifer was laughing.
Sounding nearly insane.
My correct concern was the scene could make her character of Jessica seem far less sympathetic, which it does. The script was for her still to be feeling concern that David might yet get in, unsure as to how or if the door-sign product would work, and relieved that it does, not relishing in vengefulness.

Principal Photography complete
So regarding the April-scheduled film festival, we managed to crank out a goodly amount of short subjects, two of which I had scripted: the short thriller Daddy's Girl (though perhaps the word thriller should have quotation marks around it [bg]...), and the comedy Man-Away.
We still had to deal with the film festival's running time restriction: three minutes of content, and a margin of 30 seconds for ending credits.
With ending credits, Daddy's Girl hits at about two minutes thirty seconds, so there were no worries there. James was our Director of Photography (DP), and edited it.
Once complete, James emailed the digitial footage to my brother Alan was able to compose a background score. He put it up on YouTube with an invite-only link so only those invited to see it could view it. This way we could see whether the score and foley properly fit. The first score seemed rather unintentionally comical, and his second score worked much better for the tone I sought, so Daddy's Girl was complete, for the current festival. Jennifer was out of town until after the film submission deadline, so when I obtained the disc/s (one with Daddy's Girl, the other with the Man-Away episodes), I hand delivered it. When she returns, we may have her do some ADR on her lines for the climactic scene, if the audio cannot be brought up.

Due to its length, Man-Away was to be edited into a three episode format. As its story is longer than three minutes, and as this particular film festival allows for multiple segments, each with the three minute time constraint, part one will consist of the character learning of Man-Away products, and finding the only store that provides them, and getting the product for her own boyfriend problem. Part two is the product in use, effectively ridding her of the clearly abusive boyfriend (played by comical character actor Michael Beardsley predictably steals much of the short with his hilarious performance). Part three was to be the epilogue of sorts, bookending the story.
Sadly, James went to ground. He stopped returning my calls and emails and while At One Point he momentarily resurfaced, asking what I meant by his being unreachable, when I again asked after the raw footage, et al, he went to ground again.
That's what I'd meant by unreachable... The initial plan was for Man-Away to be made as a single short (for submission to future short-subject festivals), and the three episode "series" of shorts for the Santa Monica one. As James made the Man-Away three parter into a two parter (despite all requests and instructions to the contrary), thankfully it was still accepted at the screening, possibly due to the second part being overlooked and not even shown. But the single version James had neglected to make, and stopped returning calls and/or emails.

June 17, 2007
One and a half screening...
Rescheduled from April to June, the IndustryRSVP Film Festival was held in Santa Monica, and due to an error in programming, the audience may have ended up being a little baffled with Man-Away...
Jennifer and I attended, and viewed the 40'ish films entered, including a few other short subjects on which she and I worked, including but not limited to Daddy's Girl, Heather's Hope (starring Jennifer, and in which as her doctor I have a single "line"), and the first of the two Man-Away episodes. That is, to Jennifer's and my horror, only Losing Your Loser (part one) was shown: The Trouble With Names, the second Man-Away episode... wasn't shown.
We were aghast.
We quietly had concerns about the timing issue, as the second part did end up coming in at a hiccough over three minutes. It had been reported that James had edited another of Heather's projects some time before, and it was rejected from a film festival as James had let it run several seconds beyond that film festival's running time constraints.
When afterwards I spoke with event coordinator Seth, he firmly assured me not showing part two was their own gaffe, not ours, and no problem with the film itself. Apparently the second episode fell through the cracks, most likely as both were on a single disc, and after watching the first, the viewer didn't take into account that Part Two followed immediately (the large To Be Continued title card notwithstanding...).
The other short I wrote, Daddy's Girl, got a far better response than anticipated. A tongue-in-cheek "thriller," in which Dreaming is a key aspect (hence the nod to author HP Lovecraft), as well as both the use an ax as a weapon and a quasi-comical twist at the end (eg, the nod to author Robert Bloch), somehow we haven't got it up at Youtube. My brother created a "spoof" version of it, with deliberate comical foley, but the actual film's YouTube file has vanished, possibly inadvertantly deleted instead of the "funny" version being deleted.
As it showed at the festival, to our surprise, there were audience gasps, in the spots that would indicate accepted-horror. Jennifer was impressed that my little horror film actually inspired some suspense.

Sergio, my roommate at the time (prior to his mis-managing funds and having us lose our primo apartment), and I had worked on and off (though more off than on), at making the two parter into a single short: removing the end credits to part one and the opening of part two, and updating the end credit crawl to included everyone relevant. Due to his having lost our apartment, we never managed to complete that li'l project. Due to even later circumstances, I plan to re-make both Man-Away and Daddy's Girl...
For the moment, embedded below is the Man-Away two-parter...

Saturday June 17, 2011
Daddy's Girl Re-discovered
After auditioning for an HP Lovecraftian independent short (for which sadly I was not cast), the writer/director and crew were impressed with how much of an HPL nerd am I as well. I was [to be] kept "in the loop" regarding their short (with the actor they did cast), the goal being it being submitted in time for the September 2011 HP Lovecraft Film Festival in San Pedro, similarly to the regular one in October in Portland. I was still a bit sad that I'd not been able to find an original version of Daddy's Girl, the only version my brother apparently saved was the "comical" one he did as an experiment in Foley.
But to my surprise I discover I had saved a copy, within my website, simply not linked from anyplace specific. I downloaded it from the host server and with Windows Movie Maker (its limited end-credits capacity notwithstanding), I updated/corrected the ending credits. I saved it as a Windows Media Player .mwv version, as well as a Quicktime .mov version. I decided against uploading it to YouTube or my Facebook profile, due to our leading lady and I having parted company, as it were (her decision, not mine), and I was worried she might... "be concerned" with "her image" being used in the film on which she worked.
Plus (along with the Man-Away short), I want to remake Daddy's Girl so I could submit them to real film festivals without concern over any possible unlawful and unwarrented cease-and-desist demands of my former BFF....

Man-Away profile at MySpace Daddy's Girl profile at MySpace

Two part version of Man-Away (2007), at YouTube

2007 version of Daddy's Girl at YouTube

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