This weekend marked the end of our “weekends only” schedule for Dry Bones. We’re 80% finished with principal photography. Debbie Rochon arrives on Friday for a five day stretch that will conclude the shoot. Those five days will also include the majority of special make-up effects for the film, so they’ll be our hardest five days. After that, all that will remain to be done will be the biggest special effect in the film, which we’ll get approximately one month from now. So far, this has been the easiest shoot of my life, and designing the shots has felt effortless. I consider it a minor miracle that we’ve pulled together the cast and crew we have. It’s all coming together nicely, and I can’t wait for you all to see it.
On Saturday, we started out with two scenes featuring Michael O’Hear (as Drew) and two of our regular locals: Bob Bozek (the second Mayor of Slime City, who takes a bullet in the head in Slime City Massacre, and who plays another mayor in Snow Shark: Ancient Snow Beast), and Alex McBryde (Pimp “Bless” in SCM). This time around, Bob played a crafty locksmith, and Alex essayed “Popper,” sort of a contemporary Renfield type who misses his succubus. Both guys delivered the goods, and I added a small tag to Alex’s scene featuring a cool dolly shot. I loved having them around. Kaelin loved having them around too – she loves having everyone on the film around – and I had to laugh when I saw her throwing Carmine Capobianco’s head from Model Hunger into the air and catching it. I’m proud to say I’ve provided her with a unique childhood…
Next we shot a scene in which Michael digs a mass grave in my backyard to bury the three “husks” the succubus has left around his house. I dug the hole the day before and my back was a little tender. Age! Michael had to sing the title song while pretending to dig; it’s one of his big scenes. I sent Sam up onto the flat roof over my kitchen with the dolly for an establishing shot, then two closer dolly shots on the ground for the main coverage. Later, Sam also climbed onto the peaked roof over my front door for another high angle shot of Michael removing a mirror from his car. I forgot to lock the cats in the basement, so Starbuck made his annual escape outside, but returned as soon as he got hungry. I admit to experiencing some concern for the orange annoyance.
After lunch we made a company move to Paul McGinnis’s house. Paul plays Tom, the hero’s sloppy best friend, and he’s one of the producers on the film. He’s also been one of the key crew members, holding the boom for the majority of the time. Paul is another veteran of Snow Shark, and I’m pleased that Dry Bones is his first big role in a film. Trust me, you will see more from him. Paul’s house served as the house of his character, but we started with three scenes in his basement (serving as Drew’s basement). I’m pleased that all three scenes in that basement look different, something I’ve been striving to do with all the scenes in my house too.
Next we shot a scene of Michael on his laptop; the dolly swoops in on him, and it’s one of my favorite shots so far. In the scene, Michael is supposed to be watching a YouTube video of a character named Joe Sarno (named after a sexploitation director) delivering exposition on succubi. We were originally going to shoot that YouTube video, starring Canadian actor Jason Tannis (Blood for Irena), on Sunday; instead, I asked my friend Dave Goodfellow, who produced Irena, to shoot it in his home library in Ontario. For all I know, they shot their portion of the scene at the same time we shot ours. A big thank you to Dave and Jason for lightening our schedule here.
We shot another scene on a dolly with Michael which we faked day for night, but had to wait for it to get dark to get the remaining scene between Michael and Paul. This was Paul’s last dialogue scene, and he and Michael both did a great job. Chris Rados did some nice lighting, too. At thirteen and a half hours this was our longest day yet, but that’s a typical day on most indie films (on Battledogs, we generally had fourteen hour days, and on Model Hunger fifteen hours was normal). Because another location I wanted for Sunday fell through, Paul agreed to let us shoot those scenes on his back porch, so we left our equipment there overnight. At this point, I’m so tired of shooting in my house that I was glad to spend a big chunk of the weekend away, so special thanks to Paul.
Sunday was a half day. We shot two scenes between Michael and Matt Reese, an old friend of mine from New York City who drove in from Ohio. I’ve wanted to use Matt in a film for years – he had a silent cameo in Naked Fear – so I’m glad this worked out, he and Michael played off each other well. Other than the unwanted presence of several busy queen bees and noise from lawnmowers, the scene went off without a hitch. It was great seeing Matt again.
With those scenes out of the way, we packed up and returned to my house, where we ate lunch (fed the whole crew for only $50) and set up our final shots of the day. There is a big scene near the two thirds mark of the film featuring most of the actresses in the film. We’ve been shooting most of the actresses piecemeal, and Tammy Reger’s bit was the last of those self-contained pieces. The spine of the scene, featuring Michael, Debbie, John Renna and Kathy Murphy, is still to come. This scene also features the big effect I mentioned earlier, and is probably the most complicated I’ve ever attempted.
I’m always happy to follow a heavy day with a short one, but that won’t be possible next week, so I have a lot of planning to do. In addition to Debbie, David Marancik and Tommy Sweeney are coming to town. My central air is broken, so I’m hoping we won’t have to contend with uncomfortable temperatures. Home stretch, baby!