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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

Nicholas Ozario Kaye's USC Student film

Saturday November 22, 2008
The very long short day
A few day's earlier, I'd auditioned down at USC with Nicholas Ozario Kaye for the role of a janitor for his student film Murmurs, for which I had submitted. A day or two later I was offered the role; he later revealed once I had auditioned for the role, he knew he didn't need to see anyone else for it.
Originally the thriller short only needed me for "a couple of hours" on Satuday, with possible a few pick-up shots Wednesday the 26th. At the time I was house- and dog-sitting for one of my best local friends (away for the Thanksgiving holiday week), and a midday shoot would be no issue. I would be back in plenty of time to feed and walk them and keep them company.
I arrived at the church at Figueroa and Adams a few minutes before my 2pm calltime, and several shots were done with myself and another character Archer, played by George Stumpf. To my surprise, a wedding was going on. Considering the photographer with the bride on the lawn, at first I thought it was over. As the parking lot began to fill and I noticed the photos were not including a groom, I realized the wedding was preparing to start. The coverage was done relatively quickly and a bit covertly, and we were done before we were really in anyone's way. It turned out this segment was all guerilla film making: technically we did not have permission to shoot there.
From there we went to Nicholas's place to retrieve props, and then to USC to film in the Silent Chapel, in which Nicholas did have permission to shoot.
So he thought.
As the day progressed, it was apparent that almost anything that could go wrong with a shoot was going wrong with this one. The security guard that was supposed to have a key had no idea of such permission, and did not have a key to begin with. Apart from several uncommitted fellow students who flaked on him, what kept falling through for Nicholas's shoot was locations, which kept falling through. He'd found the perfect location that was the never-used celler of a bankrupt Koreatown Church, but the proprietors refused to relinquish it without substantial payment.
Amanda Wyss lookalike Vanessa Black had been helping on crew but had to depart early. The rest of the crew included Nick Paladines, Daniel Mende and Ehssan Barkeshli (the latter of whom showed the most crew-commitment to Nicholas's project).
With the chapel a bust, co-star Brian Jordan Alvarez, playing Cirillo, offered up his place for Cirillo's lair. Nicholas managed to get his apartment house manager to let him use the storage room that could be used for the janitor's room.
But the substantial loss of time was becoming crippling; I knew the dogs (which my friend and I refer to as "the boys"), would start to be missing their meal, let alone walk/s. When the two hastily acquired locations were handled, Nicholas offered to drive me back to feed and walk the boys, and even drive me back to their place again after we were done.
We shot my "big scene" in the storage room first, in which Cirillo confronts the janitor for stealing one of Cirillo's jars. Without giving away any or too much in the way of storyline spoilers, let's just say I don't fare too well in this confrontation...
With that scene complete, Nicholas took me to the Valley for the boys, co-star Brian and what remained of his crew left to dress up Brian's apartment as Cirillo's place.
Considering how late it was obvious we might end up going, on the way to the Valley, Nicholas surprisingly offered to bring the boys back to the USC area with us, so they would not be lonely, and they could be walked while I waited for them to be complete. Being a dog lover, the presence of the two re-ignited Nicholas's missing of his own dogs back in the Boston area. As always, the boys were thrilled with having a car ride, and on our arrival at the USC Wendy's they had the treat of marking the many trees and shrubbery at which they'd never been in their lives. Both dogs all but dragged me from one palm tree to the next.
On our return to Brian's place (in a block-deep gated duplex and triplex housing complex literally all but two driveways away from Nicholas's place), they had hardly gotten to finishing dressing the place. To keep quiet the boys (well, one of them, specifically), I sat outside with them while the "few minutes" became a few hours.
One of the crew sat with the boys while I did my scene of sneaking into Cirillo's place and coming across his jars, his favourite of which I purloin. Coverage was also taken of Cirillo hiding and watching the theft, and his eventual exit to stalk and eventually confront me.
As more scenes were needed in the now hot set, which could be handled the next day, there wasn't need for any sort of a full break-down, so Nicholas took the boys and me back to their place.
Nicholas indicated how understandably frustrating the shoot had been/was being. "Everything that could go wrong on a shoot went wrong with this one," he said.
I pointed out his cast hadn't flaked on him, an aspect of which he was grateful. He related that during the audition process (which was also a challenge, as two fellow students that were supposed to be there did not show up), one actor came in who seemed legitimately insane (the guy even scared Brian, who was in the hall awaiting his own turn).
He told me the details of the Koreatown Church, and how when they heard it was "for a movie" (via a translater he had to have), the greedy men believed it to be something big budget, and through which could bring thousands to their bankrupt church. It took a while for them to grasp it was a no-budget student film. Considering the area of the basement that would have been used the church never uses, their penny-wise and pound-foolish attitude demonstrated why their church was bankrupt in the first place.
Nicholas assured me I would get my DVD copy in a few weeks, possibly even including some additional raw footage and such.

Monday December 16, 2008
Understandable delay
I received an email from Nicholas, apologizing that he'd been unable to complete Murmurs before leaving for back east for the holidays, and that on his return January 10th, he would endevour to have it done and copies sent out as soon as possible. I assured him there was no instant immediate rush. I appreciated his at least keeping me up to date. While Leah Sargent finished her recently screened Curious, she'd been clear that that she had had no time to make copies right away, in the matter of the classroom-filmed Ghost World scene on which I'd worked early November, Rachel McNevin got to me relatively quickly the DVD containing all of the takes of the scene..

Saturday May 30, 2009
At my rental box was the DVD for Murmurs. Nicholas's accompanying note indicated it was a "rough cut" of the film. Considering its audio mix (and some of its editing choices), I would have surmised that on my first viewing. The majority of the scenes, the lighting was a bit darker than I anticipated (even where there was additional light, scenes came across as available light which needed far more than it had); one strange editing choice shows me looking at the trunk but not when it is closed, which makes my "shrugging it off" look weird.
In one scene Archer speaks with a shadowy character who starts off with an augmented, other-worldly voice, which becomes perfectly normal (e.g., human), with his subsequent lines.
In the janitor's room confrontation scene, the audio did come across completely messed up: the first half of the scene our lines are completely silent, with a slight wind sound in its place. The editing is such as to make baffling as to what exactly takes place. The frame-grab below is the best shot obtainable so far. Some of my coverage is so Extreme Close Up as to work only within the context of the short, not as frame-grabs.
Afterwards other lines are also missing, despite lip movement, at one point even the wind vanishes momentarily. Puzzlingly, Archer does not return; Cirillo sits seemingly with spaghetti sauce on his face, no explanation... the short simply ends.

Geoffrey Gould as the doomed, snoopy janitor in ''Murmurs''
Geoffrey Gould as the doomed, snoopy janitor in Murmurs

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