In the Can

In 2009 I decided to take some story ideas that Jon and I had been playing with, and use them as the basis for a script. I wanted to write a script that I could film on a small budget but one that didn’t feel like the typical three-people-in-a-room independent film. My other goal was to write a queer film that didn’t rely on the standard tropes of queer cinema. I wanted a film that wouldn’t have a picture of shirtless guys on the poster.

The first draft was finished in about two months, and over the next year and a half, it was revised and workshopped and polished into the filming script. I kept trying to reduce the number of roles, but every character seemed to be justifying their place, even if they were only in one scene. A few characters got combined and some single lines turned into glances, but the final filming script had twenty-five speaking roles.

By early 2011 we held auditions to find the core actors for the ensemble and started to plan a fall filming schedule. We vastly underestimated how hard it would be to raise the budget for filming. Our savings were small, crowd-funding is over saturated and wealthy investors didn’t seem to be clamoring at the chance to spend their cash reserves on an unknown director with an unknown cast. Fall 2011 came and went and we were still trying to figure out how to raise a bit more than a hundred-thousand dollars to film with a small crew. We had calculated the bare minimum crew would be about five people on set every day.

2012 found us following a series of promising but ultimately fruitless leads. There were grants and donors and investors, and none of them panned out. So we were faced with a question – can we film for less money? We needed the actors, the equipment, the locations. We scaled back props and wardrobe, made sequences less complicated. The only place left we might cut was the crew. If we couldn’t afford them, did that mean we couldn’t film? Even the most enthusiastic supporter would be pressed to carve out six weeks to volunteer on a film.

So we asked a different question – what would filming look like if we didn’t have a crew?

I had filmed short films before with me as the only crew member. It was a juggle, and it was only for a few days. Could I do it for a feature? Having no crew would put certain limitations on what we could film. There could be no camera moves, no focus pulls, no lighting of large rooms — because we wouldn’t have any crew to physically operate the equipment. We couldn’t get just a single crew member – a cinematographer needs gaffers to move the lights. Having less crew also meant that we would have less gear, because there would be no crew to move it. If we had no crew members we could cut all the production costs associated with them. We didn’t have to organize parking or trailers or transportation, and food costs were slashed for every filming day. But could we actually make a movie with no crew?

What we came up with was a filming budget that was very similar to the one we’d tried for two years to produce, except it had no paid crew positions. The other main difference was that we could afford to produce it. The budget was whittled down to cover only what was in front of the camera.

By the spring of 2013 we had found two adventurous small investors and a few credit cards and there was a plan in place for filming. It worked out cheaper to buy our equipment, so we bought a camera and as many lights as we could carry in two trips. Remarkably nearly all of the original cast remained intact from the 2011 auditions, Travis came on board to Produce the production phase, and we were off.

The production was scheduled for six weeks starting April 25, 2013. For most of our locations, I would see them for the first time on the day of filming, so I couldn’t plan too much blocking. I sketched a series of storyboards before each filming day and we would use those to communicate to the cast what were filming. We also used these sketches to plan the day, and as we X’d out each panel, we would know what was filmed and what was missed. It was a very stressful filming period, but with determination and sheer will we pulled it off. The busiest days we had a few extra crew members to help keep things moving, but for at least half of the filming it was just myself, Travis and the actors.

There were a few schedule shuffles because our office and cafeteria locations kept falling through. We ended up taking two weeks off and coming back to film for three days. We couldn’t find a suitable (cheap) office, so we built our own cubicle on a stage. All of the cubicle scenes were filmed in two days. The cafeteria scenes almost didn’t happen, we ended up filming them all in a single long day – our last day of filming – on June 15.

We went directly into post production. At eleven months, the post period was longer than I’d hoped, but there was much to do. We had a few hiccups, but overall the post phase has gone smoothly. We had a lot of in-progress screenings and the edit was locked at the end of January 2014. The sound and picture have been cleaned up, and the All the Others Were Practice is finished.

This afternoon, we have a cast and crew screening to kick off the next phase of the film – getting it out into the world so you can watch it!

– Brian Tolle

Such A Tease

The teaser Trailer for All the Others Were Practice has finally arrived!

The films’ edit is nearly finished, and we’re starting on the color and sound mix. Festival submissions have begun, and we are on track to have the film finished by January 2014.

Until then, here’s a little tease.

Back on Track

We had a few false starts and the original rough edit was never recovered, but we had the technology and we re-built it. (It was actually re-built a few times, until I figured out why the files kept getting corrupted.)

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On Friday 9/6 we watched a full edit of the film for the first time. It was rough, and there is lots of work to do, but a great little film is in there. I think it’s going to be funny – the entire cast gave everything they had and the moments they’ve come up with are great. I can not wait to share this with you.

Over the next few weeks we’ll get it polished up as much as we can before the first wave of festival submissions. Through the fall we will finish the audio and color. We seem to be on track to begin showing the film in January.

One of the first things to do, now that we have an edit, is to find all of the music. We will start to get in touch with the bands that have contacted us, and if you’ve been thinking of submitting your music for the film, now is the time.

Ouch

We have been very lucky on this production. On the technical side we have tried our best to anticipate problems and filming went very smoothly, all things considered. We had redundant video and audio recording, all the footage is double-archived. In post we have been backing up all of our files.

On Friday 7/26 we had our first major ****-up.

The edit has been proceeding nicely. By Friday at lunch there was only about fifteen scenes left to rough out for the first assemble edit. It had taken about two months to get to that point, and even though it was the first pass at the edit, there were a lot of moments and jokes that were working nicely. I was happy with it, and we were just days away from finishing.

And then the edit file crashed, and it couldn’t be opened. No problem – the program auto saves a backup. Except it seems that it crashed while saving the backup, so neither file nor backup will open. No problem, the system backups everything. On Thursday I had checked to make sure the system backups were working. And they were.

Except there was one file that was missed in the system backups. Only one file wasn’t backed up, and it was the file that crashed. And this one file is the single file that links every edit to it’s clip. We have tried everything, and the file is broken and can not be fixed, and a copy can not be recovered.

Our entire edit is gone and we need to start from scratch. It was so close to being done, and it’s gone. We haven’t lost any footage.

We are going to burn the midnight oil, but we don’t want to rush the edit. The backups are working so this can’t happen again, but it will take about a month to rebuild the edit.

As soon as the edit is finished stay tuned for the first trailer!

A First Look

Our first look at ALL THE OTHERS WERE PRACTICE.

Between April 25 and June 15 we had twenty-one 8-hour filming days. We were busy – averaging over an hour of footage every day. With over 27 hours of footage for our 90 minute film, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

During July and August, we will be editing, adding music and fixing the sound and picture.
As the summer draws to a close, we’ll start festival submissions and our search for a distributor. The film should be available to audiences as early as the end of the year.

It’s a Wrap!

On Saturday June 15, we wrapped photography on All the Others Were Practice. We filmed the office cafeteria scenes, and it proved to be one of the more challenging days of the entire schedule. There were lots of food props and wardrobe changes, and we had more actors on set than any other day.

We got a lot of great, funny performances. We went a little long with our first ten hour day, but considering we had originally scheduled it as two days we did very well. It was a great way to finish filming.

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Now on to post production!

The Last Storyboards

Our last day of filming is Saturday, 6/15. We will be filming the cafeteria scenes. I can not wait to see these scenes, they are some of the purest comedy in the film.

When the cafeteria scenes play in the film they’re little bits that perk up the pace. We are filming them all at once, and I hope the actors have a fun day playing around with it.

In order to give the actors as much flexibility as possible on set, I have to know what I’m doing before I show up. Before every filming day I draw rough boards. Surprisingly these little bubble head sketches have gotten us through 21 days of filming.

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We will post some comparrisons of boards to final shots as we get deeper into the editing process.

The Office Set

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We couldn’t find a suitable office location. We looked at what we needed, and realized that all we needed was some walls. It needed to be claustrophobic.

So on Sunday 6/9, Joe, Kerry and Eric helped me assemble and paint a small set on the rehearsal stage of Boxcar Theater. It is the only set in the entire film, and it seems like it worked fairly well, it definately has a distinct feel from the rest of the film. We have a little clean-up in post, but it looks fairly convinving.

The Home Stretch

On May 25, we completed 18 days of filming. We have a lot of amazing footage and performances, but there is still about 1/4 of the script left to film.

On June 10 & 11, we resume filming with all of the office scenes. This will be the only sequence where we will be filming on a set. We will be on a small stage in San Francisco and we hope that the control over the set will allow us the build the claustrophobic environment that we need for the cubicle. Having walls that we can move, and place a camera ‘behind’ will let us get shots that would not be possible if we were filming on a location.

Our last bit will be on June 15th, when we film the cafeteria scenes.

As we wrap up production we look towards post production, and getting this little film onto your screens.

Boards for filming in Guerneville

These are the boards that we used to help keep track of what angles needed to be filmed while we were filming each scene. The drawings seem simple, but they contain just enough information for me to remember what the various camera angles are that I need to tell the story.

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