It's July and We're Still Filming Away by Richard Something

Sorry, I know it's been a couple of weeks since I hassled you with a blog post. My schedule has been hectic as I took on some freelance opportunities that were too good to turn down. You might think a hip, independent filmmaker like myself could survive solely on the beauty of the creative spirit, but I also occasionally enjoy buying fancy french fries. The kind that come with three dips. 

We've so far filmed for two weeks in July, and, as always, have gotten a lot done.

Like what?

 Jamie Milliken as Roger Oddcock and Aviva Seigel as God 

Jamie Milliken as Roger Oddcock and Aviva Seigel as God 

We shot 22 more pages of script, bringing us up to 53 total pages and 53 minutes of movie. All our video and audio files now take up more than a whole heapin' terabyte of space. 

That's a lot of movie for a small production.

We're proud of ourselves for what we've accomplished so far. And you should be proud of yourself in advance for all the tickets you're gonna buy to our showings. I look forward to sharing this movie with whoever happens to be reading this post. I'd say that even if it was a pile of crap, but lucky for all of us it is instead a pile of candy and diamonds. 

Of course, we've still got a ways to go. What do we have planned for this coming weekend?

 Bryan Beresford as Tiny and Kelly Noelke as Patti

Bryan Beresford as Tiny and Kelly Noelke as Patti

This weekend we're shooting five scenes and eleven pages of script, with Jamie Milliken as Roger Oddcock, Erma Kyriakos as the Devil, and Scott Vermiere as Michael St. Michael all making appearances.  

We'll be filming every week from now until August 26th, when we'll mostly be done and ready for a break before heading into the short homestretch of September. Start looking forward to all those future blog posts now!

George Sukara as The Co-Director by Richard Something

George at one of our group writing retreats. 

George Sukara is the co-director and co-editor of HELL!. He also wrote more of the script than anyone else. And will do at least a little acting in the movie, because he’s good at that too. Not to mention he’s one of the world’s most beautiful people. Some among us are just incredibly lucky and talented. Others among us are even luckier and more talented than that. George belongs in this second group. As do Jamie and Erma and Dan and everyone else I plan to interview about this motion picture. 

I emailed George some questions and he emailed me back some answers. You might think based on this being an online interaction that we haven’t seen each other almost every single damn day of our entire adult lives. Anyway, here’s the interview! 

You’re from Ohio, but grew up in Los Angeles? 

Yep. My dad got a job as an animator, so he moved to L.A. My mom stayed behind, loaded the covered wagon, and we eventually headed West.

You were born in the same hospital as both Steph Curry and LeBron James, yeah? 

Yeah. And… uh… Mark Mothersbaugh, Chrissie Hynde… Jim Jarmusch. Probably one of my family members too.

I can’t remember, are you the second or third biggest baby ever born in that hospital? 

In ‘78 I was the second biggest baby born in the hospital. Last I checked I was bumped to third. Kids be getting big these days.

Do you get notified every time a bigger baby is born? Like a Guinness Book of World Records kind of thing? 

No, I just knew someone who worked there. Shit, now that I don’t have a mole on the inside, I’ll never get updates on my ranking!

It's better that way. It'd be a huge blow to your ego to hear you dropped to fourth. You were an extra on several shows right after high school weren’t you? 

Yes sir. Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Clueless, Crusade, America’s Funniest Home Videos (yes, the audience is made up of paid extras)… I’m blanking on some others.

For a while Land and I would book gigs together. We did the Mad About You episode with Macho Man Randy Savage. That was great. We did a show called Providence, and the call was for poor people, so my plan was to smear a little charcoal on our faces, to make us look more like street urchins. We decided to not go that far with it. We always tried to get on Power Rangers, but the call was always for people to play Putties. That would have been full costume and mask, filming way out in the Valley in 100 degree weather. Aka a death trip.

What was the biggest part you played when you were extraing? 

Wow, the way these questions are posed it’s as if you’re leading me… Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane. Short lived WB sitcom. I was just booked as an extra and they had cast an “official” actor for the part of Norman, the Stalker. The director took one look at him (leather jacket, “cool guy” hair) and said “No, he’s not right.” Then he looks across the room, locks eyes on me, points and says “That guy!” It’s the perfect old-timey Hollywood story, except my career went nowhere.

When did you start wanting to make movies and shows of your own? 

Since I was a kid. I didn’t do little league. We rented three movies a weekend ever since I was really young. The first movie I saw in the theater was Empire Strikes Back. I was 2.

Plus my dad worked in animation, and was in a short film made by the Disney animation team called Luau (co-directed by Tim Burton). So that helped.

I first tried to make short films when I was in fifth or sixth grade on a borrowed video camera. The first one (“It Bites From Below”) was a blatant rip off of TerrorVision - but the monster lived in the toilet and not the TV. The second was just my brothers chasing me through the desert, over abandoned burnt out cars and stuff. I didn’t finish either of them.

You hosted an internet TV show for a while called Toobin' with George and Land. Tell me about that. 

Uh, Land came up with the idea. Basically, we presented weird videos we found online (dissimilar from the Tosh show, in that these were usually more obscure or esoteric videos). The show mutated from there. We did little sketches, filmed segments. We had an audience and a drunk Santa for our Christmas Special (Richard, Riah and Santa Oddcock). We did an after-show: Toobin Nights aka Toobin After Dark… shit what was the other one? Toobin’ High Voltage? High Octane?

We did that for three years or so. When I look back at those episodes it’s terrifying how young and full of hope we were. What happened?

Pretty sure the computer simulation we all live in is simply decaying. What other movies inspired what you’ve written and how you envision HELL!?

My initial take was a cross between Citizen Ruth and The Three Amigos. I can only hope we can make a movie as weird and ridiculous as Three Amigos. I just love John Landis’ output from the 80s.

I love a good bonehead (good bone) protagonist. It also helps that Jamie has created such an easy character to riff on.

So yeah, those two movies with a sprinkling of Medium Cool. Maybe.

That reminds me, did you know in the UK they used to call Cool Ranch Doritos, Cool American Doritos? When I first saw that, I thought, “finally, a chip named after me.”  

But what have you enjoyed the most about making the movie so far? 

I don’t know. Probably our writing retreats. Turns out I don’t hate collaboration and I don’t mind writing in a group setting. I’m not a big picture or storyline kind of guy. I can write episodic scenes and dialogue, but I fucking suck at plot. So it was nice to let the others hash out the structure of this fucker. 

Dear god, such language. 

Honestly, it’s been amazing watching the performances emerge each day of filming. I’m not just trying to kiss the collective asses of our cast, but I’ve been blown away by how talented everyone is.

Also, I love getting puppet updates (Puppdates?) from Dave.

Me too. Let’s close with that. Goodbye interview!  

What We've Done So Far by Richard Something

Our first three weekends of shooting are complete! These are all our scheduled shoots for June, which gives us a two week break to celebrate gay pride this coming weekend, then get drunk and peer into the San Francisco fog the next weekend to see if we can maybe make out the flashes of at least one firework (seriously, in the fourteen years I've been in SF there have been only two in which the fog wasn't so thick on the 4th of July that you could barely see down the block). 

What have we accomplished so far? 

 Tobias Dixon as Frankie Lodge

Tobias Dixon as Frankie Lodge

We recorded 506 GB of video and 7 GB of audio. 

We shot 31 pages of script. This is 25% of the entire screenplay as written and works out to about 30 minutes of completed movie. 

That's a lot. Which is why it's all the more impressive that we've finished every single day on schedule. 

Who helped us have such a smooth first month of filming? 

 Jamie Milliken as Roger Oddcock, with Riah Gouvea as Bryce in foreground

Jamie Milliken as Roger Oddcock, with Riah Gouvea as Bryce in foreground

On the cast side of things, we've had incredible performances from Jamie Milliken, Erma Kyriakos, Scott Vermiere, Riah Gouvea, Mark Knudsen, Tobias Dixon, Kelly Noelke, Bryan Beresford, Kristen Rhoades, Tricia DiGaetano, and close to thirty extras. 

On the crew side of things, we've had tons of great, uh, crewing from George Sukara, Daniel Sukara, Erin Dame, Connie Ng, Land Smith-Abbinante, Tyler Jordan, Jason Mahony, Laura Beggs, Joel Shapiro,  Kristen Rhoades, Josiah Greene, Jennifer Gamurot, Wyatt McGuire, and me. Not to mention that Jamie, while being the lead actor, writing the music, and recording that same music, has also been on top of wardrobe and every character looks pretty much perfect.  

Now what? 

 Erma Kyriakos as The Devil, surrounded by extras (Joel Shapiro and Bryan Ashley)

Erma Kyriakos as The Devil, surrounded by extras (Joel Shapiro and Bryan Ashley)

After our two week break we'll be right back to shooting, with four weekends of filming planned for July during which time we intend to get through 35 to 45 pages of script. If all goes well, we'll be right on target to finish filming and move on to post-production in mid-September.

Check out the HELL! projects page to see more stills from our first month of filming. 

On to Week Two by Richard Something

The first weekend of filming for HELL! was a big success. And now there are only many more weekends left to go. Thanks to Mark Knudsen, Erma Kyriakos, Jamie Milliken, Tricia DiGaetano, Tara Navarro, Isis Starr, and all the extras for the wonderful acting. 

And thanks to Erin Dame, Connie Ng, Laura Beggs, Joel Shapiro, Phoenicia Pettyjohn, Land Smith-Abbinante, Josiah Greene, Jennifer Gamurot, Wyatt McGuire, as well as George, Dan, and me for all the great crew work, even if we were a bit overstaffed on Sunday leaving a couple of you with not much to do. 

 Mark Knudsen as Howard Chowdermouth

Mark Knudsen as Howard Chowdermouth

How'd It Go? 

We shot 9 1/2 pages of script, which is 8% of our script and represents right around 9 minutes of movie.

We recorded 200 GB of video and 2 GB of audio footage. All of which has now been backed up to three different hard drives. 

We finished each day on schedule and managed to not even do a tiny bit of damage to The Lost Church in the process.  

 Jamie Milliken as Roger Oddcock, Tara Navarro as The Bartender, and the silhouette of Erma Kyriakos as The Devil

Jamie Milliken as Roger Oddcock, Tara Navarro as The Bartender, and the silhouette of Erma Kyriakos as The Devil

WHAT'S NEXT? 

This weekend we're shooting 3 to 4 scenes and between 11 to 14 pages of script: 2 to 5 on Saturday and 9 on Sunday. 

Our actors are Jamie Milliken as Roger Oddcock, Scott Vermeire as Michael St. Michael, Toby Dixon as Frankie Lodge, Kelly Noelke as Patti Puffybush, Bryan Beresford as Tiny Longfellow (the last three of whom make up Roger's band), and Kristen Rhoades as The Server. This weekend is also the first appearance of Chico, who will later be voiced (and played) by Aviva Siegel. 

It's The Final Countdown by Richard Something

In two very short days we begin our first weekend of shooting for HELL!. This will be one of many, many shooting weekends running all the way through mid-September. 

What will we be doing during these two days? Well, we’ll be: 

Shooting three scenes and nine pages of script. One page of script roughly translates to one minute of movie, so we’ll knock out nine minutes of HELL! in these two days (roughly 8.5% of the planned total run time and 7.5% of the script run time). This is ambitious, but more than doable since all three scenes take place in the same building and mostly involve the same actors. 

Who are those actors? 

  • Jamie Milliken as Roger Oddcock (Day 1) 
  • Erma Kyriakos as The Devil (Day 1) 
  • Mark Knudsen as Howard Chowdermouth (Days 1 and 2) 
  • Tricia DiGaetano as Joanne (Day 2) 
  • Isis Starr as Chowdermouth’s Biggest Fan (Day 2) 
  • Tara Navarro as The Bartender (Day 1) 
  • As well as around 20 excellent extras (Day 2).   

How big of a production crew is involved? 

There are six of us on production Saturday and seven of us on Sunday. 

Where are these scenes being filmed? 

At The Lost Church Theater in the Mission. If you haven’t been to The Lost Church, it’s an incredible space. I’ve never taken anyone to a show there who didn’t immediately fall in love with it. This great article from The Bold Italic describes it like so: 

I became a Lost Church disciple back in January, when an invitation to see local alt-country idol Paula Frazer came with the additional intrigue of watching her perform in a mysterious venue. Something about the place being named The Lost Church gave the space a theatrical flair in my mind, and when I walked off cracky Capp Street and through the unmarked door, I felt like I was entering a scene in a David Lynch film.

I can't describe it any better than that. 

And with all that said, I need to get back to doing prep work for this weekend and the rest of the month. Next week look out for a full report from this first shoot with pictures and stories and who knows what else.