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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

Dave Ciszewski's
The Box: Homocide Unit
USC student three-camera video project 2005

Thursday, September 08, 2005
New Shoot
About a week earlier I came across a casting list on nowcasting for another Dave Ciszewski project. I had worked with Dave on Business Trip, Dave's spec-commercial, which won the Suburu Spec-Commercial competition in which it was entered.
For this new project, I submitted via direct email, and Dave emailed me back immediately, casting me in the role of Holton, a murder suspect being interogated by two police detectives.
A rehearsal was scheduled for the previous evening (Wednesday the 7th), but Tuesday the 6th while working on the film Accepted, they didn't finish in time (substantial meal penalty and some nice overtime notwithstanding), so we were recalled for Wednesday.
Uh oh.
I notifed Dave immediately that I might be delayed or even might miss the early evening rehearsal. Thankfully Wednesday we were released a hiccough after 4:30pm. I virtually browbeat poor Suzy Permutter (who in Accepted, played my wife), into driving me to the NoHo Red Line station so I could zoom to USC as quickly as possible. I arrived at the USC Zemeckis building by 6:30pm so I was able to meet my two co-stars Michael Joiner and Alex and we did a few run-throughs before 7pm.
After the rehearsal, it was clarified that sadly, Subaru pretty much just thanked and Patted Dave On The Back regarding the Subaru spec-commercial Dave had directed on which I worked; there are no plans to air it.

Thursday, September 08, 2005
The shoot - my 24th film-student project
Michael and I arrived around 4:50 for our 5pm calltime. He and Alex were already friends; they attend a same acting class and had submitted together for this.
We rehearsed until about 6pm, at which time (shortly after the professor unobtrusively entered and sat down to watch), the other students for the video class began to arrive. After a while I realized that Dave's class professor's voice could easily be a voice-over double for that of Donald Sutherland.
After a full run-through so the crew knew the scene, we did several camera run-throughs with starts and stops, as well as Dave directing each of his three actors with adjustments. Eventually we went for picture. Each was done as a complete run through. being recorded as a three-camera shoot.
We took a break before going to picture. Just before we went back in, Dave gave each of us some "final" adjustments, which had my delivery go to "total deadpan." Initially it was more energetic here and there, but as we did the new run throughs, this smug, deadpan delivery made me a bit more creepy, and I found it easier to layer some of the lines.
We did five takes, Dave giving us a few adjustments here and there.
When the scene ends, it just sort o'stops. Alex puts a blank sheet of paper in front of me, a pen on top of it, non-verbally suggesting it's time for me to write out a confessional statement. My eyes go from him to the pen, then slowly back to his face. And we wait to hear "Cut."
A couple of times Alex added, "Sign it." Once our wait for "Cut!" was so long he half-jokingly shouted it. Dave pointed out it made for Less Of A Moment. But it didn't mean Dave didn't like the idea of a sudden shout: at the break just as we were to go in, he suggested I retain the deadpan delivery, but that I should shout/scream my final line (the last line of the scene). So in each of the recorded takes that's how I did it.
For the final take Dave said we could Do What We Wanted. This was a dangerous license to be handing the three of us. We'd spent enough time talking with each other to know each others' levels of humour, and they'd already worked together previously.
We didn't actually do the Complete Official Parody Version but we came close, doing a few new ad libs. Michael's own dry delivery literally had me almost crack up, and more than once, which is no mean feat; I was quite impressed. Even he could tell I was fighting valiently against letting out a laugh or even a guffaw.

The recording complete, the crew applauded the cast.
Everyone huddled into the small control room and viewed the take Dave thought was the best of the lot (we didn't view the final, funny version). As then the class would be going over Technical Stuff, we mere actors were done and shunted out, but I was already aware of this practice from having attended UCLA student film in-class screenings. (At least at the LA Film School, the screenings are the graduation picture-locked finished product: they're no longer works in progress.)
We asked for the comical version to be sent along as well; Dave assured us we would get All Recorded Takes, not just the best take, which was way cool.
Earlier Michael had graciously offered to drop me home so after giving my contact card also to Alex (Dave would give our contact information to his fellow students in case they wanted to use any of us for their projects), we were out of there by 9pm. I turned out Alex and Michael had been told earlier that the shoot night could go as late as ten, so they felt we got out of their early. I'd been under the impression we were getting out about the time I'd pretty much expected, though I'd of course have had no trouble going until it was complete. This was the first video shoot that was done in which we could see the completed result immediately. Tate Gardner's A Darker Time was a one-camera shoot, so had to edited later. This was three-camera shoot, done similar to that of a soap opera, so the cuts were done on the board in real time, though each camera also had its own dedicated recorder, so (as Dave told us), it could be Finely Tuned edited.
It was great to work with Dave again, and meeting and working with Michael and Alex. Dave told us to figure About A Month to get our copies, which is still better than most.
(I'd still been trying to chase down the apparently elusive Césare Mercado for my super-overdue DVD copy of Clocks, and surprisingly USC student Andrei Zubok hadn't gotten back to me about getting to me a functional DVD copy of Subtle Collisions [the disc he sent would not work on a DVD player], and USC student film maker Alexis Quinones [Torn] also seems to have gone to ground regarding the copy she [still owes] me...)
Ironically, to date (May 2008), even after working with Dave Ciszewski again on Red Ace Cola Project, I have yet to get any copies of the Dave Ciszewski USC projects on which I've worked for him. K

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