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    "The Contract" - A film by Neal Buconjic
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    Senior Member Neal Buconjic's Avatar
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    THE CONTRACT

    - A struggling magician sells his soul for a trick that will bring him instant fame. But does he get more than he bargained for?

    Story by Neal Buconjic
    Written by Neal Buconjic and Alex Whitmer
    Artwork by Mike Manning
    VFX compositor/SFX Technical Director - Jason Miller
    Musical Score by Sid Barnhoorn
    Color Correction by Brian R.
    Technical Consultant (magic) - Ryan McFarling


    CREW

    Neal Buconjic
    Adriana Cull
    Justin Colautti
    Jamie Pyette


    CAST

    Oscar

    Jason Preece

    Nick

    Chuck Holgate

    Santana

    Peter Fleming

    Eric Watts

    Brendan Hennessey

    LOCATIONS


    Photo shot from the entrance of the bar.


    Reverse perspective of the above shot. The stage on the left will be a focal point.


    A big monologue takes place at this bar.


    Behind the bar.
    Last edited by Neal Buconjic; 11-01-2008 at 08:13 PM.


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    #2
    Senior Member Neal Buconjic's Avatar
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    Production Details


    July 28 - Established logline, then developed a treatment.

    Aug 5 - First draft of script completed.

    Aug 6 - Secured main actor.

    Aug 8 - Had an epiphany while trying to work out some logistics of the final scene. Developed a much more tangled and intriguing ending (I was surprised, myself!).

    Aug 16 - Script completed and locked. Began scouting locations (3/4 of the film takes place in a bar/tavern).

    Aug 17 - Had a meeting with the owner of a suitable bar. He agreed to let me shoot there, but the ultimate blessing had to come from the boss (his wife). Promised a call back on the 18th.

    Aug 19 - Secured main supporting actor.

    Aug 20 - Had a meeting with main actor to discuss the story and his character. Had a healthy discussion about character development and about his creating the history of the character. What has brought him to this point?
    Received a great poster from Mike Manning. He is doing a minor tweak for me before I add it to the thread.

    Aug 21 - Had a great meeting with main supporting actor. Discussed the story at length and how his character fits in the grand scheme of things.
    Still no word from the bar owner(s), so I stopped in to see them. Not there. I was told what time she will be in tomorrow - and I'm going to call. Must know whether I need to hunt for a new locale.

    Aug 22 - Was able to get hold of bar owner #2 (the wife). She enthusiastically said "Yes, I think it's a great idea!" (to use her bar as a location). What kills me is she said "We were wondering when you were going to call" when it was her husband who said "Give me your number and we'll call you tomorrow with the answer". Regardless, I've received the answer I was looking for. Meeting on Monday with them to determine when I will be shooting there. I have to work around their hours of operation (11am - 2am). It's going to be interesting...

    Aug 27 - Had our "magic lessons" tonight. Our "magic/illusionist consultant" showed up with his bag full of tricks - literally. Jason, the actor playing the part of magician, was coached on how to perform seven or eight tricks tonight. Let's just say he needs a lot of practice to get the dexterity that the consultant has. Wow, that guy makes it look effortless. He's coming back next week to see Jason's progress and provide addtional coaching. Actually, he has a show next Tuesday, so we're going to see it for "research".
    Tomorrow I will be attending the re-scheduled meeting with the bar owners. We've already received permission to use the location, we're just hammering out the shoot dates/times.

    Aug 28 - Met with the bar owners today. They're very intrigued and supportive of the project. We discussed the availability of the bar for my shoot and they proposed weekdays, 7am to 11am - 4 hours. There's no way I'll complete shooting in the four hour window, so it'll be spread out over multiple mornings. Fortunately, I've spoken to the two actors who are currently on board and they are both available to shoot mornings (with notice). Me? Well, I'll have to take some time off work. The sacrifices we make.... The building we're shooting in is 70 years old. Fortunately, the wiring has been upgraded and includes breakers - always nice when you aren't sure how logically distributed the wiring is. They were cool about having the air conditioning turned off as well (no pun intended). As far as they are concerned, I just have to give them a days notice before showing up with cast/crew. Speaking of crew, now that I know the shooting time frame, I'll have to make sure the full crew is available on weekdays.

    Aug 29 - I'm being nickel and dimed to death with small additional purchases. Gels, gaffer's tape, black wrap, duvetyne, 3200k practical bulbs...
    Received the sfx makeup/latex kit today. Tempted to play with it, but it'll have to wait. Have arranged for an actor to read on Monday for our outstanding supporting actor role. Fingers crossed.

    Sept 1 - Had the reading for our last supporting actor role. Went very well. The actor was at ease and we talked at length about the film and particularly what motivated the character he was reading for. The camera rolled and we ran the scene. It was good, but I felt there was more potential. We talked about it a bit more and rolled camera again. Better. Finally, I chose to give some blatant instruction to "play the character like this" and by far, it was the closest to what I had written. Before he read, I was concerned about whether or not his look matched the character I had written. His look just isn't what I had in mind when I wrote it. However, it CAN work for the character. Following the reading, I'm convinced that I've finally filled this role.

    Sept 2 - The role of Santana has been filled. "Eric" remains to be cast, but I'm not worried as it is the smallest role of the lot and the character is nondescript - just about anyone could play it - any height, weight, hair color, etc. (Still has to be a capable actor though!)

    Sept 4 - The crew met for a production meeting. We went over the script, shot list and reviewed floor plans of the bar to establish key locations for dialogue that would require a lighting set up. Good discussion with the DP on the tone of the film and the type of lighting to establish it.

    Sept 5 - Secured the final outstanding location. This location will serve as the back of the bar leading to the parking lot. Established a meeting with the cast tomorrow to rehearse and to show their clothing choices. We discussed the clothing in advance and they are bringing their selections for approval.

    Sept 6 - The cast gathered today. Wardrobe was reveiwed and selections made. Today was the first time the cast was together at the same time. With the exception of one actor, they all knew each other from running in the same theater circles. I had another actor join us to read for the last part. This was a little unorthodox to have him audition with existing cast, but he had already worked with several of them on stage, so I knew he would be comfortable. Nailed it. He asked if he could stay while we ran the script a few more times and I agreed (saved me from reading his part). Before he left, I let him know he had the part. More rehearsals to follow this week. Going to the bar location with the DP tonight, as she hasn't set eyes on it outside of photos.

    Sept 11 - Tonight "Oscar" and "Santana" came over to prepare for an important scene that we're shooting Sunday, Sept 14. We reviewed the blocking then ran the scene severals times. Each time I was able to pick out some small nuances that we could explore further. I was very satisfied with the progress we made on the scene and am confident that we can nail it in short order Sunday night.

    Sept 14 - Arrived on set and discovered an audio nightmare. Across the street from our shooting location (an exterior scene) a large desiel generator was loudly groaning away in a shed. The previous two visits I had made to this location were generator free, so I was very disturbed to encounter it now. Our scene was to take place behind our building, so some of the direct sound from the generator would be shielded. I'd have to chance it. Another mishap while lighting the first shot - I have a small 10.6" HD monitor. I run it with a Tekkeon battery, but I wanted to keep this battery fresh for my FS-100 should it need it (they have a notoriously short running time), so I plugged the monitor into AC. While moving the monitor there was a small arc and the monitor went off. It wouldn't turn on again. No time to play with it, I had to move on.
    We got through the scene - I just hoped the generator noise didn't prove too much. It was 2:20am. We were cold and tired and weren't looking forward to being up at 6am for the 7am call the next morning.

    Sept 15 - The crew dragged their a$$es onto location at 7am. We were all tired, that was a given. While setting up I noticed a hum that I hadn't noticed on previous visits. Granted, every other time I had been at the bar, it had other ambient sounds, TV, patrons, etc. so this hum had been covered up. I couldn't locate the source on the first floor, but the bar owner came up from the basement and said it was coming from a compressor down there. She said it would have to remain. Compromise #1. We set up the first shot and we discovered that the big window in the background was proving too bright. I tried some black organza to knock it down, but it did little. I ended up framing from another angle to eliminate the window. Compromise #2. The final part of the scene takes place in the entrance way to the bar. This proved challenging from an audio perspective, as we were 10 feet away from a busy street corner. The dialogue was strong, but there are different traffic sounds from each take. That's going to be a nightmare in post.

    Sept 16 - After reviewing the footage of the previous day, I wanted to reshoot a segment from the scene. I wanted to eliminate a portion where the character walks around the bar. The movement had proved difficult because there were mirrors along the wall. When we finally had a take where there was no boom in the mirror, while reviewing the footage I discovered the reflection of one of the lights in the last mirror. The reshoot eliminated this blocking and thus there were no issues with reflections. Also managed to get additional segments shot as well.

    Sept 17 - We started setting up a little later than anticipated today. We were running about an hour behind schedule. Another problem was that come 9am, we were supposed to begin shooting audience reactions. Well, outside of the one person I managed to get a commitment from - there were no other audience members coming. Scrap that. We shot what segments we could and wrapped a little earlier today. However, I wanted to reshoot some (all) of the footage from Sunday night (Sept 14). The audio was terrible and many of the shots were much too dark. Fortunately, the cast and crew didn't [appear] to mind and we made plans to begin shooting at 9:30pm.
    I was pleasantly surprised to find that the generator that plagued us the other night was not running. Having already done this scene (and with additional planning on my part) we quickly and efficiently knocked out the shots for this scene. There's no doubt about it - we're getting quicker with the set ups. Having reviewed the footage from this night, I'm very pleased to have reshot it. The audio is strong and the shots are much much brighter.

    Sept 18 - Well, again we couldn't scrape up anyone for an audience. Shooting on a weekday morning is proving very difficult to find people who aren't in school or working. We shot what we could (including having the magician call the bar owner up on stage to assist with a trick) but ultimately I NEEDED an audience to cut the film the way I had envisioned.
    The bar owner offered to let me shoot this weekend, which would greatly help me recruit extras. However, she told me that she would be able to get as many people as I needed; so I agreed and asked her to bring 15 people with her on Sunday. We're in the home stretch.

    Sept 21 - Principal photography has been completed. Managed to reshoot some of the magician's act in order for me to re-cut it. I needed some alternate dialogue to work with the new (shorter, dvxuser) cut. The film is running nine minutes long, which is a far cry from six. I've opted to cut from the magician's magic act. I'll shave about 40 seconds off. That in itself won't get me to six minutes, but it's a start. We also managed to get the much needed audience reaction shots I've been desperately trying to get for the last several days. Whew. Feels good to get this much done, but there's much more work ahead. Fortunately, I'm not doing it all alone. I'll be leaning heavily on Jason (Miller) for his VFX work and Sid (Barnhoorn) for the score. I also wouldn't have got this far without my production crew. I'm indebted to them as well. Thanks, gang.

    Sept 28 - Rough cut of the film is completed. The running time (as predicted) came in at just over 9 minutes (09:11). I'm worried. As I mentioned in the thread, there isn't much fat in the story to trim out. How could we possibly shave off more than 3 minutes? That's 1/3 of the film! I've sent a link for the rough cut to both the crew and those involved in the post work. I'm hoping they'll be able to give the necessary feedback as to what should stay and what can go. I want it all!

    Oct 2 - After much feedback and tinkering, somehow we've managed to whittle this baby down to a running time of 05:49!!! Much thanks to Alex Whitmer for diligently working with me to find even the slightest bits that could trim seconds away. Those seconds certainly add up. Now that the picture is locked, the composer (Sid) has been sent a copy, so he can work his own magic. I'm looking forward to hearing what he comes up with.

    Oct 3 - There are some key VFX elements necessary for compositing in this film. In fact, they are so vital to the story that they could literally make or break the film. That's why it was so important to me to work with someone who had a lot of experience in the VFX world (Jason Miller). That being said, the effects are only going to be as good as the elements that I'm responsible for making. If I do a poor job of creating the elements, then that will translate to a poor shot. I'm hoping that I give Jason the quality he needs to do his thing. Tonight I performed a test to determine some information for when I set out to capture the elements to be used in the film. I can certainly say that I learned a few things that will assist me when I'm ready to do the real elements.

    Have hit the cap on text in a thread. Continued on Page 11!
    Last edited by Neal Buconjic; 10-11-2008 at 09:38 AM. Reason: Updates


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    #3
    Senior Member Matt Sconce's Avatar
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    I am a magician and this sounds sooooo cool. I am excited to see it!


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    Senior Member pauly_the_hitman's Avatar
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    Sounds cool magic and soul selling... Good Luck. Can't wait to see it.
    Pauly





    "I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers."


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    Senior Member Mike Manning's Avatar
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    Very cool. Still need a poster design? I'd be interested in doing something with magicians.... You can see some samples in this thread... I also did Larry R's and Pauly The Hitman's....


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    #6
    Senior Member Neal Buconjic's Avatar
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    Thanks guys. I'm excited about this project.

    PM'd you Mike.


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    #7
    Senior Member Neal Buconjic's Avatar
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    Mike Manning on board for poster design.

    Thanks Mike!


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    #8
    Senior Member Neal Buconjic's Avatar
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    Had a meeting with a bar/tavern owner today. He's 80-90% sure I can use the place, but needs to run it by his partner. Will have an answer tomorrow.

    This location is required for 75% of the film - so it's vitally important.


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    #9
    Senior Member Neal Buconjic's Avatar
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    Production details (thus far) have been added.


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    #10
    Senior Member Neal Buconjic's Avatar
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    Poster Up. Thanks blindbuzta.


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