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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...
J. Allen Williams's independent short film

Saturday March 10, 2012
J. Allen Williams (aka Jeffery Williams), CEO of Parallax Studio, creator of the innovative interactive movie computer game Darkstar, contacted me about my possibly being the co-star in his short indie drama-thriller Everything, and he sent along its initial treatment; I'd be playing. He had already posted on Facebook the poster art developed as a teaser, tagging me thereon. Jeff emailed me its initial treatment which I greatly enjoyed.
Possibly in the autumn the project would be filming in Springfield, Missouri, specifically (in the FB message), "I imagine it would be a three day production and you'd be traveling two. I need to know what you would need to do this, of course I would pay all travel, food and accomodations. I have no real budget of course, but will find it if it's within my means. I would like to get a screen test from you to be sure you fit the guy, but I'm 99% sure you are him. You can do this on a flip cam, anything, it does not need to be pro shot. You can pick any scene from the treatment to do. Interested?"
(As though he'd have to ask twice....)
Timing wise, my throat had just Caught Something, making it just scratchy enough for me to have to wait to put together a screen test video of sorts.
Having my number, Jeff called me and apart from the project I was amazed at how much topical and pop culture common ground he and I share (not really surprising, his being a fellow MSTie and growing up on the same movies as I). We also discussed my recommendation of my friend Leah Cevoli as the female character for the film's epilogue. Over the next few days Jeff completed and sent updated revisions of the treatment, the Dark Man character's climactic speech being such I half jokingly pointed out in my own cinematic head as I read it, how I visualized it, albeit it would create possibly dozens or different camera set-ups to do. Jeff responded positively, and depending on the location, my idea "could be very cool."
Discussing accommodations, Jeff mentioned the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, actually in Arkansas, about a two hour drive away from Springfield. As Jeff described it as a bed and breakfast, I couldn't resist jokingly asking if the hotel and spa might at all be haunted (investigating the paranormal being important aspect of my life); turns out it is. In a later email reply I pointed out I'd love to stay in what's listed on the site as the Most Active bedroom, room 218 if possible (room 419 as a second choice). I told Jeff about my weekly radio show in case he was interested in checking it out.

Thursday March 29, 2012
Screen test preparation
Having not yet heard from Jeffery, Leah dropped me a line asking if there were any updates. Not sure how much I was "allowed" to say, I figured it was safe to indicate the shoot most likely was schedule for the autumn. Figuring Jeff's request of a screen test from me, I indicated to Leah perhaps she and I could get together and film each other's screen test. I could edit it into a single video file and create a private YouTube video, the private URL to which I could provide Jeffery.
I notified Jeffery of this update, and he was very appreciative of the effort of doing this for him. I half-jokingly pointed out, "This is why you have a Badger"...
Leah replied with her just north of Hollywood location for a Monday evening meet-up. Bus wish I could get there just by 8pm, and as the next best return would be at 10pm, we'd have plenty of time to get it done right.
With my late afternoon Sweet Tooth rehearsal having been canceled, I decided I might see about acquiring something on which to write our lines nice and big for the screen test...

Tuesday April 03, 2012
Screen Test/s
As a friend's film screening came on for Leah Monday night, Leah and I rescheduled for Tuesday. I arrived at 3pm with my Sony Cyber-Shot video camera, which I generally just refer to as "dinky," essentially meaning it just gets it done: no major bells and whistles. While the camera has a passable zoon feature, the zoom does not function when it's actually recording.
I had acquired from Staples a presentation board, and wrote up in very large type the scenes' lines as cue cards. I had a small tripod but thankfully (as she does do YouTube videos), Leah had onhand a full tripod on which my camera could fit, albeit sideways.
We filmed her scene first with three takes, the second and third being best. With the camera on the tripod sideways, to get Leah when she was standing, I had to lean the tripod backwards, neglecting to notice at first I could have loosened the top and raised it manually. I was thrown at the handle being sideways and would have only risen the camera into a weird forty-five degree Dutch Angle.
I carried my pages, as at a distance I'm not able to read very well (e.g., pretty much at all), without my glasses.
We then filmed my character's first two scenes a couple of times, as Leah's cute grey cat Meowser occasionally gave a soft cry in an effort for some attention (and a door or three down, one could hear an ongoing leaf-blower). On my first take it was clear the shot was too wide, so we set it for as much a close-up as Leah's had been. When I edited them later, I cut at the point at which I sit, so it goes from the wide when I enter, to my close-up for the rest of the scene. The next take (which I subsequently didn't use), we just started at the point at which I sit.
We filmed my second scene with me standing, at one point I stumbled a bit on one of the more elaborate lines, which Leah assured me came across more genuine, considering the anger my character had at that moment.
We were done by about 4:30, each of us with respective evening plans: Leah having a weekly Trivia Tournement, while I had a cast wrap party of sorts for the Live-In Fear project.

Thursday April 05, 2012
Wednesday evening I compiled the two parts of screen tests and (as Unlisted), I loaded them onto YouTube, as my provider cannot handle sending large email files. I sent Jeffery the two links (I didn't lump them together: Leah had her screen test video and I had mine); in the morning he had replied to both Leah and to me. He correctly deduced she and I both had had fun doing the screen tests. While Leah and I felt one reading of hers was slightly better than the other, Jeffery felt that the other reading was a bit better (an actor is his/her own worst critic; our own thoughts had been subjective).
Jeffery was very pleased with all of our reads, and that both sets were on target.
It was interesting for him to hear Leah reading Death opposite my on-camera read. He confessed if he was not so determined to play the part himself he'd have considered Leah in the role; regarding her interesting qualities, and her certainly having the look (he based this on the darker roles in her demo reel). He felt he would be fun to push her "against type" to play a more vulnerable, yet fiercely loving daughter with a pure and angelic soul; that she must be the antithesis of Davidson, someone who has impressed the angel of death once in a thousand years.
He went on to say I am perfect as Davidson, which he added he knew I'd be, having written the part with me in mind, and that this had confirmed that hypothesis. Just as I read a role the way I feel its author might have envisioned it, Jeffery saw I understood the role. (What with Davidson having had people killed), Jeffery's "only direction," as he put it, would be to toughen me up a bit, making me a bit more arrogant and less vulnerable beyong the obvious physical aspect with Davidson's failing health. While Davidson is startled and a bit mystified by the Dark Man, he's arrogant enough to think that he can outmaneuver him.
As I prediced, he felt Leah was really good as well. The main thing he wants to do is to give Leah a vulnerable quality in her exterior look, which we're both certain would be doable. He felt her delivery was very good and that she clearly understands the character. He was also very impressed with her readings, believing from the screen test that she had "memorized that dialogue so meticulously" (at the time unaware she was reading the lines from the off-screen presentation board), which also demonstrates her talent not only at Cold Reading, but that he was unaware she was reading it..
He thanked both of us very much for our well prepared effort which really helped him visualize this, and it was actually better than he had seen in his mind's eye. Jeffery was very pleased that we did this the way we both did it, with no real direction beyond what was on the printed page (and our experience with character interpretation and cold reading). The screen tests gave Jeffery a lot of food for thought on tone and delivery that was outside of his "odd little box." He concluded that he would be showing the videos to His People on his end, but reassured us that the final call... is his.
He suggested he and I speak over the weekend, also indicating that as the weeks go by he would continue to flesh out the treatment, story, et al, and we were to expect refinements a-plenty, and that he is open to both of our input as well.
Sounds to me that It's A Go...

Friday May 04, 2012
Keeping in touch
Leah and I were in contact for her to assist me in recording another audition/screen test for another project, and I realized it'd been a while since hearing from Jeff. I dropped him a line to say Hi, and wondering what His People had thought of our screen tests for his project.
Being International Star Wars Day, Jeffery responded in kind, "May the Fourth be with you," and that everyone liked the tests, and that he would try to call that weekend, and that the plan was still to try to produce fall 2012, working around everyone's schedules.
He reported having just done a little "commercial" film for a pickup cover store chain with the same DP he'll using for Everything, getting up to speed with him a bit. The fellow would be shooting some full super-moon footage for Jeffery the next night, as it was supposed to be huge and bright.
I gave him my schedule, that Sunday might be the best time.

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