October 24, 2011

Welcome Aint-It-Cool-News readers! Ambush Bug over at AICN is the first to review our film, and he said some very nice things. To clarify for new visitors, this film is a Dollar Baby and therefore can only be screened at film festivals, as per the contract with Stephen King. For those who follow us in the Atlanta area, we will be screening at the Buried Alive Film Festival on November 12th. We will have more information posted here shortly regarding that screening.

September 1, 2011

After a long summer of post-production (remember, Jay and I work on this off-hours after our day jobs), we are closing in on the final few days of work. Our incredible composer, Seth Podowitz (musictomedia.com) is finishing up the score - and what he has turned in so far is masterful! The sound edit is going extremely well, and the island scenes are taking on new life. We are finalizing our festival submission list for this month, and we have been invited to screen at a Dollar Baby festival in Buenos Aires in November. Things are moving right along!

June 2, 2011

We are still grinding away, fighting the post-production battles. This film has been a eye-opening class in visual effects work, and we've brought in a couple of awesome VFX artists to help us complete the film at the appropriate level of quality. The film is down to fighting weight now, having dropped six full minutes from the version that we previewed at the cast and crew screening. Thanks for all the support and keep an eye on this space for upcoming news about festivals, etc.

March 12, 2011

We had an awesome wrap party and cast screening of the initial rough cut! Thanks to everyone who came out! The rough cut is good, but we still have lots of effects work and sound work before the movie is finished. Jens has returned to Georgia and put it one final day of ADR and a couple of green screen shots to fill in some blanks. Moving right along!

Monday, January 3, 2011

From December 27-29th, 2010, a cast and crew of six of us went down to Anastasia State Park to shoot the second portion of Survivor Type. It was extremely difficult and challenging, but ultimately successful. Here's the long story of what went wrong, and how we pulled together to get back on track.


It's right before noon on Wednesday, December 29th, 2010. I'm trying, distractedly, to film some seagulls while waiting for Jens, our lead actor, to finish up in makeup. The fake beard he is wearing looks amazing, but in order to make it look realistic, it had to be put on little piece of hair by little piece of hair. Time-consuming. So we wait, and I'm busy trying to make good use of the time. Also, in my head, I'm frantically trying to figure out how to fix our bigger problem at the moment.

Someone stole our damn life raft.

The life raft that explains how our main character ended up on our island - and the hole in the raft that explains why he can't leave on it - was taken in the middle of the night. We'd already shot two scenes with it, and needed it for several more. And it's gone.

You know there's a problem when your crew starts name dropping Lost in La Mancha and Hearts of Darkness during idle conversation. The raft theft is just the latest in a series of very bad things that have gone wrong on the set of Survivor Type. There's a name for this sort of situation. Let's call it hell.

The whole mess started on Christmas Day. Our little band of five - Jay, Jeremy, Toniet, Amanda, and myself - were scheduled to head out the next morning towards St. Augustine, FL. We were meeting Jens at the Jacksonville airport on the way down, as he was flying in from DC after spending Christmas with his family. Around 9:00pm, I discovered that Jens' flight has been cancelled due to the snowstorm. I text Jens, who had no idea. He immediately hops on the phone, with Airtran and after a couple hours of holding, he is able to secure a flight for one day later - pushing the entire shoot back by a day. We haven't even left Atlanta and we're already behind schedule. Wonderful.

I make the necessary changes with the hotels and leave a message for the boat owner. We have hired a pontoon boat to take us and our gear out to the peninsula where we are shooting, because the walk is four miles and the state park charges a fairly large fee for crew transportation - way more expensive then hiring a boat.

We head out first thing on the 27th. A nice trip down, offset only by a nagging concern that the boat owner had not returned my calls. This concern grows as further calls return only the message, "This call cannot be completed right now." Now we can't even leave a voicemail.

As soon as we roll into town, I head straight over to the marina. The guy's shop is closed up, no one there. I race to the only other marina I know, but on the way, I see a sign that says boats for rent. A rubber burning U-turn later, I'm in the store, and fortunately, they have some boats for rent at a reasonable rate. Unfortunately, they are more typical fishing boats, not a pontoon boat. This comes into play later.

Jens' flight arrives on time, so we are ready for the next morning. Bright and early, Jeremy and I head out to learn how to maneuver the boat. Everyone else will be joining us at the marina at 9:00am.

Jeremy and I soon discover that the fishing boat is a problem. The pontoon boat would have allowed us to beach all our gear at the shooting location and then park the boat around the back of the peninsula. But the fishing boat does not have this capability and instead, we discover we have to haul our gear the 3/4 mile hike from the parking spot. Additionally, various holdups on the mainland have caused the rest of the crew to not arrive at the marina until 10:30am, so we are way behind. Add in the boat travel time and a 45 minute hike, and we don't even get to the site until close to noon.

I had also realized at this point that the boat and the hike were going to eat into our shooting time by way too much. The Park had offered to take us out in a truck (cars are not allowed in the park except for state vehicles), but it was costly venture, the boat was much cheaper. However, there was no option at this point. We either pay for the trucks or we don't finish. Out comes the plastic, we'll figure out where the money comes from later. Want to help us? Click here to see how!

After all the delays, we end up completing two scenes from the film, instead of the four that were scheduled for Day 1. This is okay, we say, because the last day was a short day, with extra time built in for pickups. This built-in time was the single best decision I made in the whole process, as it basically saved the film.

At the end of the day, we had to cart all of our gear back to the boat. Since the park was closed at dusk and we would be back first thing in the morning on the truck, we decided to leave a bunch of stuff wrapped up inside the raft, set away from everything. We were trying to lighten our load back, and we had seen signs of others who had left gear to return for it. Seemed reasonable, we thought. Turns out, not so much.

Arriving the next morning, we discovered the raft was gone. Everything else we had left was still there, scattered about on the ground near where the raft was. Some people suggested the tide might have taken it, but the fact that other props and things that were wrapped up in the raft were still there made it obvious that it was taken. We should have brought it with us.

The makeup for this second day was a full-on beard for Jens. It was taking a long time, so I shot seagulls and static scenery and came up with a plan. We'd shoot the rest of the bearded scenes today without a raft, go get one in the evening (we tried at lunch, but could not find one nearby), and then in the morning we reshoot pieces of the previous scenes, minus the close-ups which did not include the raft, plus the missed stuff. I'm worried about finishing now, but it doesn't matter. We persevere.

We were able to shoot a couple of scenes before lunch, and while I'm at lunch, I get the next piece of bad news. Jay was uploading the data files to his computer and some of the files we had just shot were corrupted on the card. Fortunately, we had used two cameras, so we had valid takes of the shoots, but at this point, I'm a little stunned. What else can go wrong?

We continue after lunch and manage to get everything we need with the full beard. Finally, something goes right.

We head out in the truck, bringing EVERYTHING with us this time. That night, Jay and I are able to find a inflatable kayak to replace this missing raft. It's not the best option, but at this point, it's all we have. Around 11:00pm, we get another piece of good news. Jay was able to recover the data from card. Maybe we're getting back on track.

The next morning, we head out really early. We get to the site, and with minimal makeup for this day, we move like the wind. The six of us were a well-oiled machine. Unshot scenes from Monday: Done. Reshoots with the new raft: Done. Opening shot: Done. We break for lunch, but Jay and I stay behind to get extra footage and background plates - we may have some green screen work to finish. And when I say may, I mean will.

Back after lunch, and we shoot the opening four scenes of the film. Cautiously, throughout the day of rapid fire shooting, I began to think we might actually get what we need in the can. Maybe have to grab a couple of pickups back home, but we might just make it.

And we do. The final shot was taken at 5:10pm, right before our ride showed up to take us back the cards. We made it.

Was it ideal? No. We had to move quickly, get a bunch of things in one or two takes. I know Jens would have preferred more performance takes, as would I. But he's such a strong, capable actor that he was able to power through on the first or second in almost every scene, and I swear to God, you are going to be blown away when you see him in the film. You won't believe we shot this movie as quickly as we did. I still don't believe it.

The film is in post-production right now. It's not prefect, we probably missed a shot or two, but we have a lot of footage to work with and a fantastic editor, so I know we're going to have something special to show in just a few months.

There were a couple of moments where I almost lost it, no doubt. But I kept my cool, we all kept working together, and we made it. It was a good war, I told Jens. So all is well that ends well, no matter how crappy it was during the process.

But seriously, if I ever find the person who took that raft...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Over to the left, you will see the official one sheet poster for Survivor Type. It was designed by an extraordinarily talented artist named Mike Kazantzis. You can see more of his work at his portfolio site Black & Steak.

As you can imagine, the Survivor Type Production Team is thrilled by this gorgeous looking piece of art!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

We have very kindly been linked on the front page of the popular Stephen King fan site, Lilja's Library. Go check it out and look around one of the finest King resources on the web!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

After months of preparation, the "Survivor Type" cast and crew shot the first 5 days of principal photography in mid-August. The shoot was a complete success, and some early footage from the film can be viewed over on the trailer page.

Next up, another day of flashback shooting in late August, followed by an adventure to Florida to shoot all of the island location footage. For fans of the Stephen King short story, you know that means lots of fun and carnage remains to be shot!