Did you miss me?
Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. There will be more blogging going on.
In the meantime, enjoy these pictures from the shoot.
Alicia Honore plays Keisha in Battle in a scene outside Never Enough Thyme Cafe
Arvell Poe (R) plays Quasar in Battle and looks to Director Laron Austin for advice on NOT being a dope Hip-Hop producer.
Chris Burns, Samantha Worthen and Conrad "HeadRoc" Clifton on the set as FVSU
I wouldn't want to work for Christopher Thomas (L) (well at least not in a kitchen environment)...would you? Just ask HeadRoc (R).
He makes a menacing boss if you ask me. It's like Rocky IV "I must break you...and then make many, many bad B-movies :)" (Dolph that is, not CT)
"You talkin' to me?" DJ Dainja actually did spin records live on the set before mangling the blocking of a complicated scene :)
And then recovering like a champ to deliver some classic lines (so says the co-writer).
Onira Tares, Errol Sadler and HeadRoc on the scene at Lenny's Bar along with some Paranormal Activity happening behind them.
As always, I urge you to stay tuned to the blog as there will be more revelations soon.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
No, it's not a drinking holiday on the set (well, for our Gaffer Dan Slemons it is because of his crafty side deal that keeps his beer locker stocked during production) it's the Martini Day because it's the last day of Principal Photography.
Last day of prinicpal photography is always a bittersweet experience. On the one hand, everyone is excited to have completed the project. A lot of hard work goes into translating script to screen, so it feels great to have accomplished getting it all into the can. However, most of the time on a good set, there's the little feeling of melancholy that you won't be spending time with the little family that gets created on each production (at least not for a while)...and that's exactly how it felt Sunday when we were going through our last day of full crew production on "Battle".
We started off confused...again. As Chris wasn't sure which wardrobe he had worn in the scene that immediately follows the scene were were supposed to shoot. He had brought all the wardrobe choices...except the one we thought it was. So he rushed back to get that shirt only to find out that he had brought the correct clothes after all. It was the red shirt (not the RED shirt you see above...he takes things to figuratively sometimes).
The trick to a last day (at least my theory) is to make it an easy day (my first feature the last day was the toughest and I felt bad that I wasn't able to smile and hug everyone as they wrapped because we were so stressed to "make the day") so everyone can enjoy themselves. So we scheduled 2 scenes that are vital but still...2 scenes for a crew whose shown the ability to get 10 pages a day in the can when necessary? But of course, never is a day on an indie film ever easy.
However, with great actors like E. Roger Mitchell, Chris Burns, Conrad "HeadRoc" Clifton, and Candace Mabry on the set, any setbacks can be overcome through their excellent work. And they all did great.
So, we got back on track and overcame the little issues and our Martini scene was on Deck.
For the scene we had once again the talents of Rapper Trimm and James E. Brown II on the set playing Dirty Dollar$ and Big Man respectively and our generous host Talib Shabazz got to do a cameo as well.
Talib Shabazz was kind enough to allow us to shoot at his great recording studio Solar Sounds Studio.
For those unaware, Talib being part of "Battle" is very significant because he is an Icon on the Atlanta Hip-Hop scene. He co-hosted WRAS’ Rhythm & Vibes Show (‘91-’94) which was one of the most important Hip-Hop shows in college radio at that time. He went on to also host V-103’s Thunderstorm Mixshow (‘95-’96), WRFG’s Ruff, Rugged, & Raw among others. Talib also opened the first Street Marketing company in Atlanta, Keep It Street Marketing & Promotions and is one of the founders of Ear Wax Records & CD’s (which was the record store we had written into the script).
Above all, he's one of the great people in the ATL hip-hop community.
Now that we've wrapped principal photography, that doesn't make this blog obsolete...we're in post and there are tons of pictures that I still want to share so please be sure to stay tuned.
Thanks for following along thus far and thanks to all the cast, crew and location partners who've allow us to get "Battle" into the can. It's been great!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
One of the toughest aspects of making independent films on extremely low budgets is finding locations.
Not just finding locations but finding locations that will accommodate your crew for long enough to effectively film the scenes you need to film.
Unless you have a film that takes place in one place (a la "Clerks") then finding locations that you can shoot at becomes a daunting task for most independent filmmakers. And Battle was no exception to this rule.
The script for Battle has several scenes that take place on a college campus since the main character happens to be studying music at College.
Well, after looking long and hard, we found a school who was sympathetic to our challenges as well as enthusiastic about our message in this movie.
That school was Fort Valley State University.
We scouted Fort Valley State a few weeks ago and met with the Director of Campus Facilities Mr. Donald Moore and he really liked what we were trying to say with our film and wanted to be a part of that.
So, we set a date and planned the shoot which put one of the last pieces of the puzzle of our schedule into place. We could now finally schedule our final shoot day at Solar Sounds Studio as well.
Fort Valley State University is located about 2 hours south of Atlanta, GA so we got an early start to the day (about 7am) in order to drive to FVSU to make our call time of 9:30AM
I drove myself and lead actors Conrad "HeadRoc" Clifton, Onira Tares', and director Laron Austin while producers Eddie Singleton and Bennie Swint followed me as well as Behind the Scenes director Ian Williams. Along the way, Assistant Director Dave Watkins passed us and apparently everyone else did too because when we arrived, Samantha Worthen, Co-Producer Kenno Rixson and Assistant Camera Bashiri, and even Chris Burns were waiting for us in the parking lot of the athletic complex which would serve as our base of operations for the day.
Shortly after our arrival Mr. Donald Moore opened the doors and we loaded in and began setting up the Digital Download station and the office for the first set of scenes.
Samantha Worthen (below) plays Mrs. Whitmore, the director of Financial Aid in the first few scenes that also have HeadRoc's character, RIPPA, trying to get back in school after struggling financially.
Organizing to shoot outside on Campus
After we got the financial aid scenes in the can we needed to shoot a few scenes with our main characters on Campus, so we decided to shoot some of these scenes outside in order to incorporate the lovely campus into the fabric of the movie.
We first shot with Onira and Chris near the school's mascot statue, a wildcat.
Then we needed to break for lunch and Mr. Moore showed us around campus as we made a company move to the FVSU Cafeteria.
Afterwards, we shot another scene outside the Founders Building (which was the first building ever on the historic campus) and fought the nippy wind...well, the actors fought it, I had my jacket on :)
And then we shot some establishing shots with Headroc on campus and went back to shoot another interior.
This time we wanted it to take place in the student athletic complex, so we set up the scene there.
And then we wrapped the day, shooting nearly 10 pages of the script (that's a good chunk kiddies) at the fabulous Fort Valley State University.
Needless to say, we want to express our sincere gratitude to the University and especially Mr. Donald Moore for their generous contribution to the film.
Laron, Bashiri and Kenno at the Digital download station at FVSU
The tour continues
Monday, October 19, 2009
If you've ever been on a set with one Chris Burns you know that the scene witnessed above is not atypical.
Burns decided to attack producer Eddie Singleton because we were carrying Cheezits instead of the usual Goldfish crackers on the Craft Services table.
An obvious oversight on our part but this smacks of over-reaction on Mr. Burns part.
Eddie obviously thought so too.
(legal department's note...the picture above is a make-up effect and not a true injury)
Thanks to the cool Samantha Worthen for coming down to play a supporting role and not minding the drive down to Fort Valley State University. And thanks to her for supplying these pictures.
HeadRoc and Samantha Worthen on the set at Fort Valley State University
More updates soon and pics from the last weekend of principle photography.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
We've got lots of updates coming soon...
...but I wanted to take a moment to congratulate our excellent Assistant Director, Dave Watkins, on the upcoming release of his movie Stragglers which he directed, produced, and even stars in.
It's a horror flick with lots of gore...so if it's not your cup of tea you can just add it to your Netflix queue and push it back just before it ships but the add will help our man Dave.
So please put it in your queue and tell your friends too.
Two other Battle cast members also star in the film, Chris Burns and Michael D Friedman.
Do it sooner rather than later as it will be better if it's in demand before the actual release date which is Nov. 3rd.
Stragglers on Netflix
You can now queue up Stragglers on Netflix! Its releasing on DVD November 3rd.
AD Dave Watkins wonders "how a big time feature film director gets roped into working with 'these guys'?"
Sarah Anne Cooper and Muta'Ali Muhammad show some "Papparazzi Love" in Battle
HeadRoc Makes a beat versus Miracole Burns (had to sneak in a Battle pic)
Monday, October 5, 2009
Dan Slemons and Laron Austin outside Never Enough Tyme Diner
Yes, we're still in production. Only two days of principle photography to go and we can't wait to get those days in the can.
What are we waiting for?
Well, lots and lots of things.
You never really appreciate the logistical challenge of any project until you're in the middle of it.
We've got several challenges to finalize but we feel we're close to getting those completed. We'll have an update soon.
We've got a new system to configure which will make editing a lot less of a time consuming endeavor as we've upgraded the system to make it 8 times more powerful than before which hopefully means that post-production can go at least twice as fast as we'd expected initially.
There's also human logistics. We are working around a lot of schedules because we're not Warner Brothers and cannot lock everyone down for 3 months straight. So we're being as flexible as possible with Cast and Crew and they're reciprocating for us as well. It's truly been easy up to this point. I can say that with all sincerity.
And of course, one of the most daunting tasks can be locations.
We had to search far and wide for one of the key locations for the whole movie and we believe we found it. The aesthetics of the location are perfect and the people helping us facilitate the shoot have been tremendously supportive. We'll reveal all in a future post but needless to say that we think it will be worth the wait for us in the end.
So, bear with us because once we get things solidified, the pace picks up fast and furious again and before you know it we'll be full-tilt into post production on "Battle"
So please stay tuned...