This past weekend we finished principal photography on the Easter video, which doubles as a short film titled The Incredulity of Caroline. It’s been an enjoyable experience.
Two and a half weeks ago I first met the actors that would be bringing to life the script I wrote. It was a good meeting and left me confident in the production. As I’ve mentioned before, I have been dismayed at times by some of the actors I have had to work with on some of the scripts I have written here. It’s tough because I’ll spend a lot of time working on a production only to see it ruined by the actor. I was glad when Jay suggested we go with a local talent agency to get actors for the Easter video. We do have some volunteers who would do a good job, but sometimes their schedules don’t work with our shooting schedule. A number of them are involved with other projects coinciding with Easter. Besides, this is arguably the most important message of the year and we wanted to give it our best. Getting professionals to act in the parts would raise the level of excellence with the production.
When I saw the initial audition tapes I was excited because the actors were bringing life and depth to the script. It also challenged me in my writing. Their delivery of my writing, because it was well done, showed me some holes I needed to shore up in my script writing. I’m so use to writing for reading that I usually do the same for script, but that is altogether something different. It’s a science that I learned a lot about throughout this production.
Another plus with the actors we worked with on this production? I’m not sidetracked by hour long conversations over the Biblical basis of some minutiae within the script by them. And, they didn’t try and hijack the proceedings like some have tried in the past.
We started shooting on Thursday, March 19 at the UNO library. I’ve been grateful for the favor and access UNO has provided us last year and this year with our productions. Being able to film there adds so much to the production as opposed to filming in a room we try to design as a library or school. The first day of shooting was going to be our toughest. We had five of our six actors in one scene and we had to get multiple shots of them reciting their lines. Thankfully, Jay is a maestro at setting up these shots.
The scene we shot on the first day is a pivotal scene in which the characters share various perspectives on the resurrection of Jesus that mirror a lot of opinions out there. One of the tough things with this scene was trying not to come across glib. (We had to cut a lot of dialogue from the script so it would fit in the timeframe we were given.) I think I managed to write it where it isn’t cheesy and there is some tension and development with the scene that thrust it forward.
Some fun things with shooting that day at the UNO library? They are in the midst of reconstruction so in the middle of a take you’d hear a drill or saw start up. Inevitably, it seemed they’d always start up right after we started a take. Also, that was the first day of March Madness so in the afternoon I was following the action on my iPod Touch. And, after a long day I hit up Amsterdam afterward for some good food.
The following Monday, March 23, we filmed at Sherry Gossman’s house. Sherry is a volunteer who works with us in Communications. She’s from the Chicago area and also helps a cool church out there, Community Christian Church. We started mid-afternoon and were interrupted by the first tornado to come through the area. I was monitoring the weather on my iPod Touch to see how long we could film before the storms hit. Once they did hit, we took an extended break for the weather and dinner. (During the break I was twittering storm updates. A number of us on Twitter look to it for weather updates as opposed to the local news.)
The first scene we shot that day was our protagonist, Caroline, rehearsing her presentation. That evening we shot a scene where she goes over evidence for the resurrection with her friend Alan. Which reminds me…
How did I come up with the names?
Caroline – It’s a play off of Coraline which is also the same name of the title character of a wonderful movie I just saw.
Alan – The first name of an apologetics teacher, Alan McBryan, that I enjoyed.
Neil – Keeping it with Coraline, the author of Coraline is Neil Gaiman. I was looking at people on TweetDeck, a Twitter application, and saw his name on there since he’d just tweeted. Thought it would be appropriate to reference his name as well in the script.
April – I asked aloud in Communications for a name and this was a name Nick said.
Nadia – I was researching Muslim names and liked this one. Plus, there’s a minor character on LOST named Nadia.
Professor McBryan – Remember the name of that apologetics teacher I liked?
Shooting in Sherry’s kitchen was crazy at times, but I was impressed with how Jay managed to capture certain angles and how Nick would get the lighting right for the scene. It was a late night, but everyone was great throughout the shoot that day despite the delays with the storm.
Last Wednesday, Jay was shooting some b-roll around Omaha. I didn’t have to go out that day, which was nice. We had discussed some areas around town we wanted to capture. This footage will primarily be used in the end when we show Caroline driving to class to give her presentation.
Finally, we wrapped shooting this past Saturday. We were in UNO’s Durham Science Center for the scenes. At one point we had 23 actors, extras and crew on the set. We’ve come a long way from a handycam, one take and “a wing and a prayer”. The actors continued to be great and professional, but I also appreciated the extras. They spent their whole day helping us out for free. Granted, some of them can use the experience for their resume, but it was still cool that they helped us out. Everyone got along with each other, and it was a productive day of shooting.
I was always listening to everyone talk during production. I wanted to know what people thought about the script, about the message. I heard a number of people saying the script and production got them thinking about God more, which is great to hear. I had some good conversations about the topic with some of our actors.
Now, Jay is editing the video. I’m not sure on all the footage we have, but I do know we used twenty tapes. If we maxed each of those out we’d have twenty hours of footage for a ten minute short. Jay will be editing this week and next at a breakneck pace to have it ready by Easter. Not to mention there will be some effects added in post production.
As soon as the film is completed I’ll upload it here.
Once again, thanks to the actors, extras and crew that made this short film a reality! Also, incredibly grateful to work at a church that gives us the freedom, push and resources to make a production like this possible.
(Most photos taken from my cellphone except first photo on the post and the second-to-last photo which were taken by Nick Kelly.)