Monday March 23, 2009
Back in February I starred in the USC student film project
Happy Birthday Johnny.
A few weeks later, I was contacted by Matt Golad, who had run boom mic for that class project, as he was producing the group's next project
Written by Dave Cowan, the director was
who amusingly tagged her emails with "Madame Director."
I received by email the ambitious script, two scenes in which I play literature teacher Mr. Shaw.
I'm a supporting role; the class was filled with students from the writing class.
Originally the shoot was to be Tuesday the 24th
(just as the Happy Birthday Johnny shoot had been on a Tuesday),
but a week or so before I learned it'd be Monday the 23rd.
Thankfully, calltime was 4pm, so I did not have to lose any hours at my temp-assignment day-job.
Leaving straight from work, I arrived at 3:30pm.
Just after 4pm, I called Matt to learn everyone was meeting in the courtyard, not near the classroom as an earlier email had indicated.
who'd directed me in
Happy Birthday Johnny;
for this project he was running sound.
They reported that
Happy Birthday Johnny
turned out really well, and that somehow along the line during editing, the choice was made to omit my co-star
(leaving only his voice, I presumed).
I wondered how that played out visually, and they assured me I'd get the DVD copy soon; it'd not yet been burned.
They reported that their teacher was extremely impressed with my performance carrying the film, considering now one only sees me: going from a two-man film to a one-man film.
We walked over to Taper Hall where a classroom had been reserved, a few classrooms down from where I did a scene from
for a project.
Ian Kay, who was producer for
Happy Birthday Johnny
for this project was running camera.
With the classroom being students from the writing class, I was the only actor cast from outside
(for these two scenes we shot); according to the call sheet, they might not yet have cast their wrestling coach.
The previously provided "call sheet" listed only characters and given names: I only learned Nate was being played by Ronnie Alverez as he was kind enough to forward to me a few behind the scenes photos he'd taken with his digital camera.
I would not know surnames of others until seeing the film's credits.
Taking place on two different days, the scenes revolve around Nate and Britney
(Talia Steinberg, a super cute brunette who easily could play Ali Larter's sister),
while as the somewhat apathetic teacher Mr. Shaw, I discuss themes and motifs of the novel The Great Gatsby.
Both scenes are brief, but the structure of the shoot was loose enough that when Cut would be called, I occasionally would slip in an ad libbed riff.
Ronnie at one point began finishing his line by taking a bite of beef jerky.
I don't know about today, but in
high school, even the appearance of eating in class was forbidden.
As the beef jerky was pretty grotesque from across the room, when Dorian would be about to say Cut, I said, very teacher'ly: "Nate, are you chewing tobacco in my class?"
There had already been enough gaffes as it was to ensure a gag reel, so I didn't feel restrained in making such a comment, but it was funny enough it sort of got added, in that I buttoned the scene with asking if he was eating in [my] class.
Nate began adding the hastily tossing away of what jerky was still in his hand, in one take pretty much smacking Matt in the neck with it.
Probably the biggest problem was noise from the hallway.
Apart from that it went rather smoothly, as indicated, a few comical gaffes notwithstanding.
We did our quick changes
(I went from my blue shirt with tie, to my striped shirt sans tie),
and we did the second scene.
Between set-ups, Ronnie set his digital camera on timer and got some shots of himself with Talia and other cast members.
When we were complete, he took a few more shots that included myself, as well as a few photos being taken with my own camera.
I provided Ronnie with my email, and by the wee hours of the morning they were in my inbox.
The script's writer Dave Cowen apparently was in charge of the burning of the
Happy Birthday, Johnny
DVD, and Emre reminded him to do that;
my hard copy address
from my website, and I was told I should receive that DVD in a week or so.
Monday June 15, 2009
Matt Golad sent along my copy of the Womanhandling DVD, which I received
(being inadvertantly addressed to "Gregory Gould" notwithstanding),
the film of which turned out pretty well.
I was surprised as to how much of my improv'd ad libbing remained in the film.
My reference to Nate's eating in my class starts the scene, even my continuing on with my albeit in-character MSTie riffing.
It made my character out to be even more amusingly snarky.
During the second classroom scene as the note is passed, only my pants are seen a wild line or two of mine is heard.
The end credits are a humourous compilation of omitted bits and/or gaffes and outtakes, including but not limited to a shot of me glancing over to the audible off-screen classroom door being opened as an off-screen crew member enters
(action having been called and the take already begun, so the entrance was actually an interuption),
in-character my calmly pointing out they "are so late," and my intent to mark them as tardy...
I do not know if this will enter any film festivals...