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leaving town to shoot a feature


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 01:21 AM

After waiting for this WGA strike to end, I decided to go back to job hunting, considering after wrapping on "Assassination of a High School President" in late September, I haven't worked since other than three days on a commercial with the Polish Brothers.

Partly my fault, because "Big Love" was supposed to go back into production in late November, so I decided to take some time off in October-November. The WGA strike hit almost exactly on the week I was supposed to begin.

A friend of mine had a small feature he wanted to shoot during this time, so I waited in December and January for his project but the funding never came through.

Then two weeks ago I interviewed for a family film shooting in L.A. but the moment I finished my interview over on the studio lot, the director got a call saying that the studio was pushing the project for an indeterminate amount of time.

I had gotten a script called "Jennifer's Body", written by Diablo Cody and produced by the team that did "Juno", with Jason Reitman acting as a producer on this one. Karyn Kusama is directing. At first it looked like they found someone else, but fate intervened and I got an opportunity to interview for it. Now it looks like I'm going to get to shoot it, up in Vancouver, BC. It will be my first visit to Canada. This is a Fox Searchlight production I believe.

It's a high school horror film with a lot of odd humorous dialogue and interesting characters. That much has already been mentioned on the web after the script was leaked, but I won't say anymore than that.

There may be some conflict my schedule later in the spring with other projects that are coming down the road -- "Big Love" may start up again, the Polish Brothers have some films on the table, "Assassination of a High School President" will start its D.I. in a month or so, etc. But over the years I've had to learn to focus on the here and now rather than the what ifs. Almost everything ends up pushed later one way or the other, a little or a lot, so waiting a month for something to start could turn into three months or two years if you're not careful. That's sort of the nature of being a feature DP only, either I'm booked for three months or I'm off for three months looking for work, but it's very hard to know what to do with a two or three month window, which is why it's hard to commit to a project that someone tells you is happening in the farther future. It seems most features in my world only really get going a month or six weeks before the first day of shooting, which is basically when the money starts coming in for production, hiring, etc. plus the cast really gets locked down.
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#2 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 02:42 AM

Congrats David, it sounds like a good opportunity. It's bound to get some attention since Diablo is the apparent "it girl" as far as screenwriting goes this year. I look forward to it already!

Mostly because of the strike, I've mainly been getting jobs with foreign companies coming into the US to shoot. I'm AC'ing a Korean feature film for the month of March. Should be interesting :)
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#3 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 02:50 AM

Sweet, congrats on the job David. Sounds like you're starting to specialize in high school themed films... But hey, it's the producers of "Juno", so I guess it could end up being a huge success for you. Good luck!

I'm just starting out my career, but I'm also beginning to see what you mean about not counting on upcoming jobs until they become real. I've been doing AC or lighting PA jobs on shorts, commercials, and industrial interviews, so for me I only know for sure a few days before, sometimes the day before. But even my worst day on set is better than working in an office or scooping ice cream for a living, or so I keep telling myself.

Jon, be careful that you don't get taken advantage of on that feature. I don't know what working conditions are like on Korean shoots generally, but I've heard some specific horror stories about Korean crews not being well taken care of by their producers, being forced to do crazy hours in some dangerous locations. It could have been an isolated incident and I know that stuff happens here too. But better safe than sorry, if you know what I mean.
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#4 darrin p nim

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 04:18 AM

Good luck on this feature David, I hope its a large success. I believe that it will be, considering it's Fox Searchlight, there's a niche following with their films that seems to reach beyond its normal crowd. I haven't been to BC in close to a decade but Im sure you will enjoy on your free-time or on production. Its a beautiful city, very green with an nice urban atmosphere close to water. Have a safe trip.
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#5 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 04:22 AM

Jon, be careful that you don't get taken advantage of on that feature...But better safe than sorry, if you know what I mean.


Thanks for the warning.

It's a Barry Stone gig though. So I'm sure if they try to pull anything like that he'll be the first one to put his foot down.
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#6 Freya Black

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 07:15 AM

I may be reading stuff into this but I'm guessing you are writing this because you have qualms about having to do this, even tho you know it is the right desicion and you know you have to.

I think it sounds like a really intresting project. Maybe Jason Reitman will cameo or something seeing as he is involved. I have a friend who is a huge fan of his, or at least she was until the Dahjeling limited (appatrently it wasn't because the film was so awful and boring but because she couldn't deal with the mostache), and I'm guessing there are other avid Jason fans out there. Horror films are somewhat accessible too and could be an opportunity to do some really intresting lighting. So actually it sounds really, really positive, even if it is far from home.

I guess you are worried about Big Love starting up again, but I think it will take a while to get production going again even if the strike is over tommorow.

Perhaps what you are really worried about is your relationship with the polish brothers, as it sounds like you have a really good relationship there. It seems to me that maybe you could let them know when you are going to be away and maybe they can work around those dates maybe? I guess you would know best how to approach it all, and you just need to trust your judgement and it will all be okay I suspect.

Anyway, whatever happens the canada thing sounds like a great opportunity!

Good luck and take care! I'm sure it will all be totally okay. :)

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 08 February 2008 - 07:16 AM.

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#7 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 10:02 AM

Good luck on the shoot, David, and keep us posted (if you have time).
Buon viaggio! ;)






p.s. Freya, I think you're mistaking Reitman for Schwartzman.. :P
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#8 John Holland

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 12:13 PM

Freya think you may have got the wrong Jason there . Jason Schwartzman is the one your friend liked with or without the tache . i think you will find .
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#9 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 12:36 PM

Ahh yes, it appears the Polish Bros. do have something new in the works.
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#10 Freya Black

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 01:03 PM

Freya think you may have got the wrong Jason there . Jason Schwartzman is the one your friend liked with or without the tache . i think you will find .


*giggle* Ah you are both right! I'm terrible with actors names and stuff and she just calls him Jason. ;)
I'm much amused that you both knew exactly who I was talking about! I guess he has more of a reputation for being hot stuff than I realised! I can't entirely understand it myself, but then I prefer Mr Depp! :)

love

Freya
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#11 John Holland

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 01:22 PM

Hey Freya he aint hot stuff to me ,thank you very much . :huh:
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#12 Freya Black

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 01:45 PM

Hey Freya he aint hot stuff to me ,thank you very much . :huh:


*giggle* but you must have heard about his reputation somewhere! :)
Yeah I can't say I understand all the fuss about the guy either but maybe he would charm me if I met him in person? Maybe I should get my own back and start taking Johnny Depp movies over to my friends house and start playing them to her and saying "Look isn't he dreamy???".

But the tache seems to have done the trick for now anyway! ;)

love

Freya
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#13 Francesco Bonomo

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 01:49 PM

I'm much amused that you both knew exactly who I was talking about!


Well, it was kind of simple, it's just that I was pretty sure about Jason Reitman, a director, not acting in "Darjeeling Limited" (which, by the way, hasn't opened here in Italy yet)... :lol:
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#14 Freya Black

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 02:52 PM

Well, it was kind of simple, it's just that I was pretty sure about Jason Reitman, a director, not acting in "Darjeeling Limited" (which, by the way, hasn't opened here in Italy yet)... :lol:


Oh I see! thankyou for smoking and Juno or something.
I guess I have to confess that I don't know what I am talking about as I havn't seen either movie yet! :)
Hopefully it's not as bad as having never seen Jaws! ;)

love

Freya
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#15 John Holland

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 03:03 PM

I take that reference to having never seen "Jaws"as personal attack on Stephen Murphy and my self last time i buy you a coke so there . :P
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#16 Freya Black

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 05:53 PM

I take that reference to having never seen "Jaws"as personal attack on Stephen Murphy and my self last time i buy you a coke so there . :P

I'm not sure I get that, as it's me who hasn't seen Jaws, not you or Steven, so how could it be an attack?
Maybe I don't know enough about the carrer of Jason Reitman here and if I did this would all make sense.

On the upside I don't drink coke, so that's a relief! ;) Phew!

love

Freya
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#17 Michael Collier

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 06:46 PM

In an earlier post, David, you mentioned some jobs are taken out of respect for the script and the visual opportunities it affords, some are taken after a long hiatus period where you just need work.

My question is, knowing you have been on vacation for a while now, which was more prevelent in your decision to shoot this film. I am sure script/visuals played a role of course, but was it a feeling of just being out of the game and wanting to shoot, or is there something in this script that just jump off the page and made you want to shoot.

Also, Canada? If locations are still not locked, would the producers be open to talking about Alaska as a location? I could arrange a free trip for them to come up and check out the place. I don't know if they are after mountain town and snow, or just the tax incentives, but we do have a lot to offer for a film of that size. If it seems like they might be open to it drop a bug in their ear and I can get together a free trip for them to see everything in this state that might suit their project. I can also send a library of stills of various locations we have avalible, along with general city/rural/pristine shots. I can also get them in touch with our permiting office, which for most locations, right of way can be obtained for $25 to a few hundred a day just about anywhere in town (with almost no red tape). State parks lands can be shot with a free (pretty sure its free, or cheap) permit, as long as the 1million insurance policy minimum is met.

If its shooting over the next 2 or 3 months, we will still have snow on the ground (and cheap hotel rates as well) let me know if I can help.
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 06:59 PM

This is definitely an exciting project to come my way, no matter when. It's atmospheric, visual -- and the dialogue is really good. And the budget and schedule are decent.

What I'm less interested in shooting are high-key comedies that are all talking heads; that can be more of a case of the circumstance (need work) or that the people involved make it exciting more than the material is from a DP's perspective. I mean, if it's a truly brilliant talking-head comedy... then it would behoove me to be a part of it, to be a part of any good movie. That's more what I was referring to regarding considering work that I might normally pass on, talking head comedies (especially broad ones) but becoming less picky when times are slow. I lean towards genres that I feel need interesting lighting -- dramas, thrillers, fantasy, etc. Not that a comedy doesn't need good cinematography.

But I'm always looking for projects that I think need my particular skills, where I can express myself in some manner. And I'm always looking for creative people to be involved with in my career. This project is great because it's challenging in all the right ways.
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#19 F Bulgarelli

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 07:30 PM

This is definitely an exciting project to come my way, no matter when. It's atmospheric, visual -- and the dialogue is really good. And the budget and schedule are decent.

What I'm less interested in shooting are high-key comedies that are all talking heads; that can be more of a case of the circumstance (need work) or that the people involved make it exciting more than the material is from a DP's perspective. I mean, if it's a truly brilliant talking-head comedy... then it would behoove me to be a part of it, to be a part of any good movie. That's more what I was referring to regarding considering work that I might normally pass on, talking head comedies (especially broad ones) but becoming less picky when times are slow. I lean towards genres that I feel need interesting lighting -- dramas, thrillers, fantasy, etc. Not that a comedy doesn't need good cinematography.

But I'm always looking for projects that I think need my particular skills, where I can express myself in some manner. And I'm always looking for creative people to be involved with in my career. This project is great because it's challenging in all the right ways.


Good luck David, sounds like an interesting project. Have you decide what format, is it 35mm?

Francisco
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#20 Xavier Plaza

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Posted 08 February 2008 - 09:23 PM

But over the years I've had to learn to focus on the here and now rather than the what ifs.



You're so right !!! Good luck David on your feature
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