This is the second in a series of blogs journaling the steps it took to make the indie film Love Eclectic. Preproduction on the film took about three months but before anything could be started something needed to be done about the script.
The original script would have been impossible to do on such a small budget. It needed to be adjusted — not in length, but in overall complexity. There were scenes calling for big cinematic feats; like crane shots, walking & talking shots, shots involving special effects and special equipment. These things would have eaten up our budget very quickly. The script was also moving around to too many locations, some of which were unattainable. And there were too many characters. All of this made it too costly for us to do. The script needed to be trimmed and consolidated.
There was no way we could have competed with big films on a technical basis anyway. But we could adjust the script to maximize things we could do well — like basic cinematography — camera angles, continuity, composition, lighting.
Our close-ups could look just as good as bigger films if the characters didn’t move around too much. And we could completely cover the scenes with multiple angles if we limited ourselves to using a simple tripod or handheld camera.
We took a cold ruthless eye to the script. All the characters and lines and locations that didn’t really need to be there were deleted. But often the best lines from those deleted characters were able to be added back into the mouths of remaining characters. The nice thing about consolidating a script is that it makes all the remaining elements that much more weighty.
In the end, we had over half of the action happening in just one location and most of the lines were now between just three characters. The script finally felt ready to go. It was mostly “talking scenes” that didn’t require any technically difficult feats. But the script still had enough action scenes to feel “big” and enough outdoor shots to feel expansive.
We now needed only six total locations and all of them were easily attainable. The top three accounted for over 80% of the script — one of which served three different “script locations” (Sophie’s Bedroom, The Russian Party, and The Wedding Reception) by using different areas of the same house.
Another area in which we could compete with bigger films was acting. A lot of the quality of the film would be riding on those performances so it was going to be very important for us to fully capture them.
Of course once we started shooting there were surprises and obstacles, and we didn’t get all the shots.
The first scene on opening day was showing a character (Sophie) entering the store. The shot list called for a long view down the street but there would have been copyright issues and lots of bystanders in the shot, so we settled for a more limited framing.
Also, there was suppose to be a tracking shot with multiple angles creating mystery about who the woman was, including a close-up of the wheels of her shopping cart, but since this was our first day and we had no idea how smoothly the rest of the day would go, we decided to eliminate those shots and instead move inside and get going on all the other scenes there.
During production there really wasn’t enough time to stop and examine the footage, or take home dailies to watch at night, so we just had to cross our fingers and trust ourselves.
More later on the production days…
*photo: Alysse Fozmark (Mo) holds ukulele (in the shop location).
See Blog #1 here.