I found these notes when cleaning up my computer. I never quite finished them, but it’s still an interesting look back at our process shooting “Within.”
Day 1 – Car Ride + First Night of Shooting (08-Mar-2010)
The Within shooting trip started early Monday morning with a 3am wake-up call to pack the car and start driving to Michigan. Waiting to the last minute to pack and watching the tail-end of the Oscars netted me about 2 ½ hours of sleep, perfect for the 14 hour drive ahead of us.
Dr. Azeem was the main driver, a friend from Philly (who is a doctor) and had about the same amount of sleep as me and had the added fun of driving 2 hours from the city of brotherly love on Sunday night. We left the Tower of Arrogance around 3:30am to pick up the third and final member of our car extravaganza, Fergal, one of the three actors in the film.
The car ride was about your average fair, complete with pit stops, good conversations, driver rotations and about an hour of sleep each (not at the same time as that would have been disastrous).
We got into Caseville, MI, where we would be shooting for the entire week, around 6pm Monday evening. The house we stayed at belonged to a friend of Woodruff’s (writer, director, co-producer and one of the actors) and was perfect for us—plenty of bedrooms, space and close proximity to woods, the primary location for the film.
By the time we arrived, Frye (as in Don Frye, former MMA fighter and verifiable badass, also the third actor in the film) was cooking dinner and intimidating the hell out of the pasta. We didn’t waste much time with the formalities as we were out shooting our first scene by 9pm that evening.
The first night’s scenes were relatively simple, but given that it was the first day of shooting, it was the dark of night in some woods, and we had never worked together as one group, we didn’t finish up until around 5am. If you’re keeping track, that’s a 26-hour day with one hour of sleep; tack that onto my previous day and the week started with 3 ½ hours of sleep over the course of 40 hours—I must enjoy what I’m doing…
Day 2 – The Second Night (09-Mar-2010)
Fortunately (or unfortunately) the majority of this movie takes place at night, meaning we had plenty of time to sleep during the day. I attempted to catch up on some sleep, finally waking up at 2pm.
Before the shoot could start, there were a few things needed from the store. Dan the Ninja (the director of photography, co-producer and assistant director, also a ninjistu instructor) and I went in search of an Internet connection and long johns.
Unbeknowst to us, Caseville is a small town with seasonal visitors. The season? Summer, when a cheeseburger festival brings in tens of thousands of visitors from all over. However, when it’s not Summer, it leaves only a few thousand people around in the surrounding area, meaning not much was happening in town.
Our search for Internet seemed doomed, as the one Internet café was closed for the season. Our search for long johns didn’t start out much better as the Dollar General (the only chain store in the area) was fresh out of them. Luckily, the General was carrying some oversized sweatpants which worked just as well at keeping my feeble body warm as a pair of underwear with pantlegs.
As for the Internet, our journey took us across the street to the hardware store, where a discussion about gaffers tape turned into us explaining to the store owner that we were in town to make a short film—he wasn’t surprised as apparently news of our project had already spread through town. He was kind enough to let the Ninja use their computer and also offered up some friendly albeit not-entirely-helpful film advice.
After a nothing-special, still-good dinner, and Fergal’s unsuccessful attempts at cracking Frye’s back, we were ready for the second night of shooting. In an attempt to expedite the filming process, I worked on a shot-list and schedule for us to go off of. We didn’t even come close to following it.
The goal of the night was to shoot the climatic scene of the film through to completion–this involved a campfire, some dialogue, a costume change and some makeup. Due to a little bit of a late start and the time it took to find the right shots, we only made through about 1/3rd of the scene before dawn starting peaking through the trees and we had to call it a night. Bed time: 6:30am.
Day 3 – The Third Night (10-Mar-2010)
After sleeping till 4pm, it was time to start the next day. I awoke to some discussion about getting steaks for dinner, and given we were already over budget for the film at this point, it didn’t seem like a good idea. However Frye insisted (in the way of paying for the steaks) and we sent Dr. Azeem on his way to grab them. Long story short—the selections the doc made were not up to Frye’s standards and there were lots of jokes made about the aptitude of a doctor being able to select beef.
Since Fergal’s attempts to crack Frye’s back the day before were unsuccessful, it was Woodruff’s turn to try. Stepping on the goliath’s back yielded mediocre results but some weird pinching maneuver seemed to do the job OK. Woodruff compared the toughness of Frye’s skin to tree bark.
Our first scene of the third day was meant to be one that required one of the actors getting hoisted up into the air by his foot (yeah we got all stunty in this film). We initially wanted the scene to take place at dawn, meaning we could shoot it in reverse at sunset, but it turns out that the sun sets pretty quickly making it difficult to actually shoot an entire scene with the same light in the background. This was the first, but not the last, scene we shot that ended up being used as a “learning experience” (aka was a waste).
After drastically missing the magic hour shot, we moved back to the scene we were shooting the night before. The second third of the scene required some makeup work that slowed down the progress of the night, but ended up looking better than expected. With some good camera work and lots of running around from Kyle (the key grip / best boy on the film, who was in fact that best boy in that he did the job of 3 people without ever complaining and always anticipating what was needed), we were able wrap on the climax of the film just before dawn arrived and Frye had to leave for the airport.
With the late shooting, we got to see another beautiful sunrise over Lake Michigan and cozy up in bed by 7:30am.
Day 4 – The Fourth Night (11-Mar-2010)
I naturally awoke on Day 4 around 3pm as my body started to adjust to the new night hours I was living. The day was relatively relaxed, though Josh (the sound guy and overall funny dude) gave me a few of the sound files he was recording and I got my first taste of what syncing will be like on this film. In that short preview, I could tell it was not going to be something I would enjoy.
Day 5 – The Fifth Night + Back to NY (12-Mar-2010)
Cooked hamburger helper for first time (with no milk and expired butter)
Snare trap scene + Insert shots + Little bit of rain