Welcome to Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!, MovieMaker‘s new blog where indie moviemaker Jayce Bartok talks about the dos and don’ts of crowdfunding from the trenches of his own crowdfunding campaign. Have a question for Jayce about his movie, Tiny Dancer, or just crowdfunding in general? Ask away at .
When we last left off, the production of our short film, “Sunburn,” had capsized after being kicked out of our first location (not our fault!). In spite of our bad luck and thanks to the kindness of Sasha Eden, who plays one of the “Housewives” in a fictional show within our show, Day 2 offered shelter in her production studio, WET. We loaded in that very night, quiet as church mice, and prepped for the shoot. In hindsight, these things seem to happen for a reason. True, we did lose stunning views of the NYC harbor from 26 floors above the city, but we gained access to offices that actually resembled a working television network. The new “television network” brilliantly showcased the work of our first-rate production designer, Steven Grise. His mock-up posters for our fake show, titled The Manhattan Social Club, and our donated Emmys were better shown off in our new impromptu location. Most importantly, Sasha’s offices had a wrap around terrace, allowing our DP, Andres Karu, and our gaffer, John Gabriel, to blast light through the office windows. The resulting effect created a beautiful natural light—which kept with the “sunny” theme of “Sunburn.”
As fortune would have it, we could only shoot on a Sunday when the offices were empty, forcing us to consolidate two days of shooting into one (Ahh!). The shortened shooting schedule demanded that we make some really difficult choices regarding the shot list and scenes—which, surprisingly, pushed the film back on track and ahead of schedule! I’m going to try my hardest to not say something like, “when the Film Gods give you lemons, make a hard lemonade,” so I will say only one thing: all that matters is that you continue to lead your cast and crew and, more importantly, keep filming! Film production is an intense, exhausting, and magical experience where you can discover just as much about your story, as about who you are and how you work under pressure.
After the confusion of the previous shoots, Day 3 went, mostly, according to schedule (well, when does it ever?). The shoot took place in our friend Naama’s stunning Williamsburg restaurant, LightHouse, but instead of a more relaxed schedule, this particular shoot was was our most intense yet. We had 3 scenes extending 5 ½ pages to shoot, as well as a shift to “splits” (starting in the afternoon and continuing on into the night). The beginning of the day went smoothly, but as night approached we entered into the most complex scene of the film. In this difficult and emotional scene, where the reality film crew records a character’s breakdown on film, we discovered the most amazing thing. The DP and I had set up a dolly shot as a master in order to get close to our couple. Our couple is seated in a crowded restaurant, complete with a film crew ominously documenting their every bite. I am obsessed (OK, pretentious warning here) with that famous shot from François Truffuat’s Day for Night, in which the director walks through a bustling set and is approached by each department head. One by one, they show him props, make-up, costumes—it’s a moment that encapsulates what it means to be on a film set. Interestingly enough, Wes Anderson, director of films such as The Royal Tenenbaums and this summer’s Moonrise Kingdom, famously paid homage to Truffuat’s cinematic shot in an American Express commercial a few years back. But, let’s get back to our film. We set up these dolly tracks starting on our hero, dollying to the table and—as the couple has their meltdown—dollying back to our hero as he watches the (unseen to us) action on the monitor. It’s hard to explain, but the results were chilling. It allowed us to make the scene seem like a play, keeping the very dramatic action of a public meltdown deliberately far from the camera. The viewers can only hear the meltdown through the headphones of our hero getting a glimpse of what is happening from the monitor, instead of meticulously covering the couple (which we didn’t have time for anyway).
So again…necessity is the mother of all (sorry, I’ll stop myself) great dolly shots.
Jayce Bartok is an actor and moviemaker who runs Vinyl Foote Productions from Brooklyn with his wife Tiffany. Currently, you can see him on USA’s “White Collar” and in the just-released film, Why Stop Now? opposite Melissa Leo, and Price Check both of which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Follow The Independent Collective at twitter.com/ticnyc to stay updated on the Tiny Dancer crowdfunding campaign.