Then what happened…?

Firstly, for those that actually made it through the last blog entry – I’m amazed! It was a bit of an epic, so a massive thank you to those that took the time to go through it all! Sorry for all the spelling and grammar mistakes! Also, a big thank you to Mike Seymour who left a comment letting me know that he was quoting Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar. I’ve since updated the entry. I really hope that it was of some interest and help to other film-makers out there – as I’m sure there’s some lessons to be learnt from our mistakes. As ALWAYS feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment if you have any questions!

Ok… so I decided that the trailer must go ahead on the Wednesday night. That meant I had six days until day one of principle photography. Had everyone still been on the project, that deadline would have been a challenge but not impossible. Given that I was now producing, directing and art directing, this was going to be one of the toughest tasks I’d ever undertaken, but hey, I was up for it!

After an extremely tough Wednesday night of one minute thinking that Sakooz was dead, to the next deciding to take on the world, after many phone calls and some quite heavy discussions with friends, family and mentors, I finally went to bed at some unhealthy hour. Then Thursday it was pedal to the floor!

The morning was dedicated to working out a basic plan of attack. Given that my work load has now tripled, I had to do some seriously thinking and evaluating. There was a lot of work still to be done, so I started hunting down people I could trust to pull it off given the tight deadline. Once I had a very rough plan of attack, I then headed to Animal & Odd-bod Creators to pick up the Pinky body. I must say, Colleen, Karen and everyone at this company has gone well and truly out of their way to help us out. They have been so tremendously helpful, supportive and flexible, it’s been amazing. So thank you! The Pinky body was perfect, and so off I went, with a Pink alien body on the passenger seat. The adventure continues!

Then in the afternoon I had to pick up a work van and pick up all the props, sets and other odd-ball stuff that was still at Isaac’s. This was a very strange moment – almost an ending of an era. Isaac, Caithlin and Anli were all there, and together as a team we tried to get the uncompleted space ship set into the van. Thanks to our good mate Murphy (who seems to be following me around like a stalker), the ship was about 1.5cm too big to fit into the van (“missed it by that much!”). And so, we got some hammer out, and in a typical Chris fashion, we just “bashed” it in. After a good forty minutes of near death experiences, and some serious struggles trying to get everything into the now completely jam packed van, we won – and we went for coffee to have a debrief. To be perfectly honest, it was horribly awkward. I guess this was the point of separation. Anli, Caithlin and Isaac were heading off to work on something completely new and different, and I was continuing on where we all left off. There was no yelling or screaming – and everyone looked, although very sad, fairly relieved. And so, after I had one of the most hardcore Hot Chocolates I’ve ever had (it was like drinking a block of pure chocolate that had been turned into liquid form by a bunch of high precision lasers), we all said our goodbyes and headed off in different direction. Anli went off on a train, Caithlin jumped in a car, Isaac walked home, and I drove back home in a jam packed van. But I made it!

Once home I unloaded everything (which was surprisingly easier than trying to get it into the van in the first place), and then dropped the van back off at work. It was now very late, but I continued on working out schedules and attempted to nail and glue back the spaceship set together. At about 4:30 in the morning I finally got around to writing an e-mail to all the cast letting them know the situation. Some of them knew already – as I had spoken to them soon after I found out that Isaac, Anli & Caithlin will no longer be continuing on – but others had no idea. It was a very tough e-mail to write – as I didn’t really know what to say. I didn’t want to scare them away from the production (as loosing the director is quite a big thing!), but at the same time, I wanted to ensure them that I was more than up for the challenge and still really believed in the concept and the belief that this could be big.

After an hour or so of sleep, it was back to it. One of the main problems I had at this stage was that due to various reasons I no longer had access to the animatronic Pinky head. The head had taken months to build (as still wasn’t 100% finished), and so it was kind of scary knowing that I had to come up with something within a few days. But luckily I had a secret weapon – my brother! Although we couldn’t make an replica animatronics head given the time frame, we could still make a really great puppet! So I spent most of Friday driving around like a mad man picking stuff up and buying bits and pieces – fabrics, foam, plastic, metal, wood, cleaners trolley, wires, steel, bottles, tools, hard drives, etc. I also borrowed a Mac Pro from Eidolon Creative, for the on set capture. Julian, who runs Eidolon is amazingly helpful and supportive! We’ve worked together on heaps of various indie film projects over the years (Grey Days, Jumping Jack, Union Jack, Behind Crimson Eyes Clip… the list goes on!), and we constantly bounce ideas off one another, and have become quite good mates. If you ever want a great video clip produced, Julian is your man.

By the time I got home with all the bits, it was quite late and unfortunately I had prior engagements for the night – it was my brothers 21st! And so, despite the fact that my brain was racing at a billion miles an hour, I had to stop, put on some crazy clothes (it was a movie themed dress up karaoke night believe it or not!), and have fun. But of course, once the party was over (and I must say, it was a REALLY fun night!), when I got home it was back to work. Eventually I went to bed… I think.

Saturday was a big day. Luckily I convinced some of my brothers friends at the party to come and help me complete the spaceship. And so, with a team of talented people, we started work. Four of us took on the spaceship outside, whilst inside my brother started cutting up foam and fabric to build Pinky’s head. It really was a race against time. I wish I had some behind the scenes footage of us building everything outside, as it would be been seriously funny. None of us were really builders (although Karen at least knew how to operate all the scary power tools!), so we were just pretty much making it up as we went along. It was fun – a little scary at times (whenever I had the jigsaw in hand!) – but certainly not a boring afternoon! By the end of the day, we had made amazing progress. Outside, the ship was starting to look as if it would actually work, and inside, Pinky’s head was slowly coming to life. Thank you to Catherine, Karen, Shaun, David, Jacqui and the rest of my supportive family for all of your help! I got about one hour sleep that night, and just my luck, during that one hour of turning my back, it started snowing!

As we woke up on Sunday morning, the whole backyard was covered in snow! I couldn’t believe it! What are the chances? Unless I’m working outside, I tend to spend most of my time inside – and it was just plain bad luck that the one time I decided to build something outside (that is, the space ship), it started snowing! Crazy! I’ll post some video footage of the snow soon…

So, we continued building in the freezing cold with snow all around us, whilst inside the nice and warm house, David continued on with Pinky’s head. Once I had done all I could do outside, I spent the rest of the day in front of the computer doing call sheets. By Sunday night everything was looking good – call sheets were done, the space ship was ready for transportation, and Pinky’s head was done except for the eyes. We hoped that we could get the eyes from the animatronics version of Pinky, but failing that we ended up just making a new pair. They’re very similar, however, not quite as good. But luckily, you can’t really notice the difference on camera.

Then Monday, the day before shooting, it was a MASSIVE day of picking up and testing gear! First up we picked up all the uni gear (which was a completely full 4WD load – actually I’m pretty sure we seriously overloaded the car but anyway). Then we headed home, unloaded, and headed back out to pick up the camera from Inspiration Studios. As always Cail and Pete were AMAZINGLY helpful and supportive. These guys are the RED gurus – so if you ever need to hire a RED in Melbourne, give them a call. They really go above and beyond! Then it was off to Frazier Film Lighting to grab some more lighting. Les is amazing, and we are so grateful for all of his assistance and support. Like everyone else, he really went out of his way to help us out. So thank you!

Now with a RED, and enough lighting gear to sink a battle ship, we headed off to Hub Productions to pick up the lenses. Although I had heard a lot about him, and spoke to him on the phone and via e-mail I’d never met Jim (who runs the hire department). But all the stories were true! He’s just a really great guy! Super helpful and supportive! We did some quick tests to make sure the camera plays nicely with all the hardware, and then off we went. We were ready to rock and roll…

On the way, we grabbed an old JAG from work (thanks Frank!), and off Jacqui and I went back home to prepare for day one. At home, we started sorting through all the gear, and loading it all into a massive trailer.

Unfortunately that night I didn’t get much sleep either. We just had so much to do. But, despite all odds, we got there. We were ready for day one. Despite all the obstacles, despite all the problems, we had at least got to this stage.

So that pretty much wraps up this entry! In the next few entries we’ll give you a run down of what happened during the shoot – as we certainly had some exciting times!

Again, thanks to EVERYONE to helped get the trailer footage in the can (or on the hard drive as the case may be). I HONESTLY truly appreciate everyone’s hard work and dedication. I couldn’t have done it without you all. So thank you!

Photos and behind the scenes footage will start appearing soon, so stay tuned!

Until next time… Chris!