The Story Behind The Scenes
Original Posting Date: October 8th 2008
The cinema company I worked for at the time had issued a contest: in the most creative way you can think of, describe how you get fit. It was a very open contest with wide parameters. It could be written, shot on video, recorded on tape, painted, whatever. There would be one winner per district, and the prize would be a gym membership for a year at some swank gym.
I read this over and somehow several twisted ideas entered my head. I proclaimed my preliminary ideas to several other staff members, stating I had every intention of entering this contest, and no real intention of winning (it was just a gym membership after all).
I ran my ideas past Dan, as I felt that after a year, we needed to shoot more National Super Heroes Guild movies. I didn’t write a script, as I had a very basic outline and I knew exactly what the payoff would be, and even the music I would use.
I actually had a time table for this one, even though I had no script. I was on a deadline after all. The first thing shot was actually the moon. Nate shot it per my direction, but he said it really didn’t look much like the moon…more like a white spot on black. Nevertheless, I figured I’d keep it.
So Dan and I started a week or so later by shooting the indoor shots, and the first opening take took forever. We wanted to show something banal on tv and cut to Dan as Timmy being a zombie. We went through it a few times and either a line would be bad, Andrew would get into shot, or giggling would ensue.
The shot we kept wasn’t perfect. You can see me start to swing away from the tv, but go back and wait a bit longer. The reason why, and ultimately the reason why we kept this inferior shot, is because on tv was this clip from Rolie Polie Olie where the dad proclaims “It’s time for the chicken dance!”, and comes out dressed like a chicken, clucking and dancing away. It’s hilarious, and emphasized what we were trying to get across with tv.
During the exercise montage, watch closely…Andrew keeps edging into shot. A hand here, a foot there. I try to keep him out, but he’s pretty determined.
We then shot the outdoor footage, but I learned very quickly that what seems good to the eye doesn’t necessarily show up on camera. It was dusk, but we thought it looked okay. Then we watched the footage at home and we were like “Hmm. Reshoot!” We did keep one shot from there and that’s of Timmy waking up from his stupor on the field. This was actually the best lit shot from that night.
A couple days later we went back and reshot. This time went more smoothly though, because we knew exactly what we wanted to do this time. I started experimenting this time by showing a fall, and filming a seperate landing. I must have had Daniel “land” on his back and front easily a dozen times from different angles. I make a quick cameo as Gringol Sr. tossing a football, and we filmed Daniel failing to catch it a few times. The one we kept wasn’t the original idea as he was supposed to whack his head on the goal post. In the one we kept, he whacked his knee…for real. That’s real pain you see there folks. That slight delay before he grabs his knee is the fire of agony blossoming in his leg, and that fall to the ground is the shock of it shooting through his body. I had to keep it. 🙂
About the sky shots…the clouds were moving at a good pace, but I really wished I had used a tripod. When I sped the film up, it was hard on the eyes with all the shaking. I basically kept what was the most stable.
The payoff: I had procured from Value Village a werewolf mask. There were two, and this one was the lesser in terms of quality and price. The other would have been awesome, but it was $40. As it stands, I still really like the mask we have. And it looks great on Daniel. Since I was representing Vancouver in some ways, I decided to film around some landmarks downtown.
So Daniel inexplicably goes from a football field in a park to transforming in Robson Square. There were some structures we had fun with in the area, and we shot the scene where he attacks Doug three times. When Doug is first shown, look to the right…there are two teens smoking up there that were giving us suspicious glances the whole time.
From Robson Square, we went to the Art Gallery and Robson street. Let me commend Daniel on his werewolf run…it’s brilliant. We went in with a game plan. I told Daniel “Skulk around and look bold, but stay on public ground and do NOT get in anyone’s face.” Right before Dan crossed the street on Robson, he attracted the attention of a couple girls who didn’t really understand what was going on, and found the whole thing hilarious. But apart from them, everyone else totally ignored us as I anticipated.
Then we filmed two endings in front of the Art Gallery. One was of me being attacked by Dan, and the other was of him coming up behind me and us giving a thumbs up. On paper, they both looked funny, but we wanted to shoot both and see which worked better with the mood of the piece. You’ll see which one we kept.
Editing went quickly, and we had Daniel dub in his werewolf howls. I also put in the sound effect of a dog barking early on, which we all found very amusing. I put in my original music selection for the last half…”Stress” by Justice. Perfecto.
Small problem. The contest stipulated that anything recorded had to be 5 minutes AT MOST. I didn’t think it’d be that long during filming, but sure enough, she clocks in at around 6 minutes. So I made two versions: the original, which is on YouTube, and the contest version which has some scenes cut out from the end and very beginning.
I express mailed it to head office in Toronto, just to be early, and got excited. Interesting thing to note, the difference between this video and the previous one is astounding. For starters, the last one had the most cast working on it, and this only had the three of us. Plus I like to think that from a technical standpoint, this one is a huge jump.
An e-mail filtered down through work. Apparently, in each region, the managers in each cinema would vote for who they think should win. And for all of BC/Sask, the whole region, there were two (2!) entries: mine and the General Manager of another theatre. And his was an e-mail.
I saw this and was elated…I was sure I had won! I mean, my video entry, linked on the company’s portal, took weeks to do and this paragraph really didn’t compare.
Let me state that at this point I wanted to win. I didn’t even care about the prize, it just seemed so logical I should win for the crazy amount of effort I put in to it. Another manager I worked with felt that the scene where Daniel is grinding for a half second on camera, and I say “Not THAT kind of action” was inappropriate though and might cost me votes. This was news to me. It was unscripted, and flowed with the piece. Besides, most of the managers I’ve met have a great sense of humour.
Long story short: we lost. How many people had voted? No clue. But Dan and I gave this our all and had a lot of fun doing it, and we were beaten by a barely coherent paragraph written in two minutes.