Part 2 of filming the truck chase sequence took place at the house of my friend Annie, the same friend that owned the SUV and the camp where we filmed the majority of the chase sequence. This day of filming included shots of the truck driving by, Slim falling out of the truck, Slim climbing on the roof of the truck, Wilhelm in the truck from behind, and the swordfight from one angle.
The reason Wilhelm was filmed from behind was because Jake was not available on this date, so my friend Donovan was a stand in with the nun outfit on.
The most memorable part of this day's filming was when the camera fell off the vehicle. The truck was turning a corner and the camera was in the very back with the rear hatch open. The force of the car turning made the entire tripod fall over and the camera land directly on the pavement. Remarkably, the camera still worked after, only the viewfinder was detached so setting up every shot needed the LCD screen.
I have some wonderful friends. Not only were so many of them willing to help me make Slim, but also they would offer their own ideas to make things easier.
I knew that Slim needed some type of 'boss' character. This character didn't need to be constantly present, but someone had to send Slim on his adventure. For this role, I asked my friend Craig to do it. He is always very straight forward and practical and I thought he would be a perfect fit for Slim's boss. Craig did a fabulous job. If the scene wasn't going as intended, he would figure out a way through his own performance to capture what was needed. His character may be my favorite from the entire movie. Today, he is finishing up law school.
As an "epic" (and I use that term loosely), Slim has a lot of characters. Some of these characters only appear in one scene. My friend Ross plays a chatty bartender. Much of what he says is improvised. Today, he works for Geek Squad. My friend Rickey plays a cranky waitress. Ironically, today he helps manage his family's restaurant. My friends Scott and Jacob appeared as nuns. Today, Scott works for a local church, while Jacob is the editor of Indie Hangover, a game review website.
Some of my friends performed in scenes that I ended up cutting years later. I felt terrible doing this, but if there is any interest I will release outtakes. There are a lot more friends that helped in someway that I have not profiled in this post, but I am forever grateful to them.
Do you appear in Slim? Say so in the comments below!
It sounds like the title of a how-to book, but did you see what I did? I uppercased Convent because the characters are nuns!
Once I had Jake in place to play the lead villain, I needed other henchmen (hench-nuns?) to support him. The first was my friend Matt as Captain Sudden. Matt and I had been friends since middle school. He was almost always dependable. I say almost always because he forgot to show up once for his scene and I ended up filming a double from the back for the entire thing. Now that you know this, you will look for it, but normally it would not be too noticeable. Matt was a lot of fun to work with and he kept things light. Today, he still lives in my area.
For a female nun character (a female nun--go figure), I wanted someone that would contrast with the other female lead (blonde hair and blue eyes). For this, I turned to my friend Kalee. She has dark hair and dark eyes. However, in order to cast her, it was a package deal, so her two younger brothers got to play servants. Kalee seemed to have a lot of fun--at least I hope she did and she was enjoyable to work with. Today, Kalee has her own chef business. Please check it out!
For a final "named" nun character, I wanted an imposing figure. Greg is my oldest friend--I don't mean he's old--we met in Preschool when we were both 3 years old. He moved away in second grade and, in a miracle return, moved back sophomore year of high school. Greg is very tall. He was perfect for Baghead. In order to play Baghead he wore a paper bag on his head, hence the name. Greg and I had a blast working together. The most difficult part for him was seeing through the eye holes in the paper bag. Today, he works for an aviation company in my area.
Next time, I will talk about casting other roles!
To Be Continued...
I used that title for this post because our villains are the Nunzies! I have known many wonderful Sisters in my life--the Nunzies are not based on them. These villains are based on the horror stories I have heard from my parents and others of their generation about the cruel Nuns they had as schoolteachers.
Every group of villains needs a lead villain. For the role of Dr. Hans Wilhelm (see earlier post for where the names come from), I knew I needed someone with acting experience, as well as great comic timing. There were plenty of experienced actors in my area, but it would have been weird having a 40 year old villain with 15 year old co-stars.
When I asked my friend Jake if he would take the role, I was overjoyed that he said yes. Of all my friends, Jake probably had the most experience playing lead roles in plays. He also appeared in the local film production The Mushing Mill (see previous post). His comic sense and timing is perfection. Often while filming his scenes, I would have to walk away so I wouldn't ruin the take from laughing at his improvisations! Jake was a joy to work with and always pleasant and agreeable. Today, he lives and works in Southern Maine.
Next, I will describe casting other Nunzies!
To Be Continued...
In my Freshman year of high school, we learned about Freud's theories in English class. Of all his theories, it was that of the Id, Ego, and Superego that hit me the most. Basically, Freud believed that every person was a balance of their base instincts (Id), their own personal thoughts (Ego), and what society demands of them (Superego). Why am I mentioning any of this? Because, this was also when I realized how and why sets of three characters can work so well together.
Consider Brody, Hooper, and Quint in Jaws (1975). Quint and Hooper have vastly different opinions and methods and Brody is stuck between them. In Star Trek, Kirk relies on the emotion of McCoy and the logic of Spock to make decisions. I could go on and on.
Moving further away from Raiders of the Lost Ark, I took the main character's helper (John Rhys-Davies' character) and made him a more prominent role and I took the main character's love interest (Karen Allen's character) and made her a more prominent role. The result is that you have interactions among these three strong characters instead of one character reacting to others.
For Slim's companion Tubba, I went back to Kindergarten. Not literally. My friend Mike and I have known each other since Kindergarten. He did a fabulous job in Star Wreck balancing comic enthusiasm with keeping a straight face. He also looks convincingly Hispanic, despite the fact that he is not at all Latino. I asked Mike if he would play the role and he agreed. Mike did a phenomenal job and also served as Director of Photography for Slim. Today, he is a police officer in Southern Maine and probably keeps an eye out for bad filmmakers exploiting their friends.
For Slim's female companion Snarion (see earlier posts for an explanation of the character names), I wanted someone that would physically contrast with Slim and with Tubba. My friend Alissa has dirty blonde hair and blue eyes--bingo. I had met her in middle school. When I began planning for this movie, she was very enthusiastic about it. In the winter of 2005 as I was developing the characters, I asked for her input for the character of Snarion. It was then that she volunteered for the role. She had actually appeared in another local production a couple years earlier called The Mushing Mill. Check it out: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0397550/
Alissa was very patient in the course of filming. By about take 5, she would be done, so I learned to get what I needed by then. Today, she lives and works in Washington, D.C.
With selecting these two performers, I had the power of three strong characters to lead the film. Remember that--three characters may be better than one. In later posts, I will share about finding performers for additional roles.
To Be Continued...
See what I did with that title? Because this post is about casting! Big budget filmmakers would use a casting director--often someone that has an agency of associates working with them. For the zero budget filmmaker the casting director is you!
My first job was to find someone to play Slim. This performer had to fit several requirements 1) Be willing to wear an uncomfortable "fat" costume, 2) Be available for most scenes, and 3) Learn lines quickly. I searched and scoured my list of friends. Most could fit two of these requirements, but who would be around almost all the time? Me!!
That is the truth with casting for a zero budget film. Cast the people willing to do the job the way it is. I know the impressions of movies that star the director are of vain, ego-stroking projects. But that was not the case with me. I have very little confidence in my acting abilities. I simply knew that Slim would always be available if Slim were me. So next time you find an acting director, consider that maybe no one else was willing to take the role!
To Be Continued...