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I need a cave. Please help!


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#1 Osman Arslan

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 09:55 AM

Hello everyone. I would like to apologize for my English first of all. I'm from Turkey and I have been living in New York for 6 years now. I studied filmmaking at School of Visual Arts. I have this 5 minutes short film project which I have been meaning to shoot since I was in film school. This is a no dialog film opens with a caveman's attemp to create something in a cave. The film ends in present day New York. Basically the film tells what kind of understanding enabled us to get out of our caves and carried us to present day and what is imprisoning that understanding now. I really want to shoot this film but I don't know how i can get access to a real cave. I would love to shoot it in a real cave but probably I will need a permit to do that. I don't know how I can find a cave and get a permit for that cave. If I was in Turkey I could even demolish a cave and sadly nobody would say anything. Finding an actual cave and get a permit for that seems pretty hard to me. I am even thinking to create paper mache panels and paint it like a cave wall and put the panels together like a tent and use it as cave somewhere in the woods. That doesn't seem impossible to me. I even bought some wood glue, brush and created a 24 x 36 sheet looks like a rock panel. It takes just 5 minutes to make one before painting. It needs to be dried before you paint. I'm sure I can make 50-60 panels like that in a month by spending a few hours a week. Honestly I would like to shoot it in a real cave but if it is not possible I will make that cave and shoot this film. When I showed it to my professors they all said it was a high art and the only reason holding me shooting this is the cave problem. It sucks. I am even thinking to change the setting but cave was an important element for this film. The caveman's attemp to paint by using very unusual technique is the key here, and it goes well with the cave because of the cave paintings. Also getting out of our caves is the symbol for getting out of the dark ages. I would appreciate any suggestion. Again I apologize for my English. Thanks in advance.
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 11:14 AM

Sounds like you've already got some ideas. Locations are often the hardest part of low-end filmmaking. As you've already identified, there are essentially three options:

 

1) Use a location that already exists. Pay the owner whatever they want for it.

2) Build a set in a studio. Pay for the set and the studio time.

3) Shoot it against green screen and build it all in post

 

I find that people's idea of a reasonable fee for a location can be very high, possibly because everyone assumes that all film productions are huge American feature films. Sometimes this is understandable. I once needed an industrial interior. An electrical generating station nearby was on the location lists. They wanted UK£2000 a day. We couldn't afford it, but I didn't object. They're a generation station; film work is very much a secondary task and they have a very unique-looking location.

 

Other places, such as your cave, are more commonplace and have no real purpose, but the people and organisations which are in charge of them still tend to think they're worth thousands a day. By the time you've paid for the location, any required insurance, and things like transport, it can be worth paying for a set and a place to build it. After all, you can build sets in lots of places.

 

Green screen of course requires that you are capable of doing the postproduction work. This tends to be free time spent at your computer as opposed to building a set using expensive materials in an expensive studio. If you're sufficiently skilled, the results can be very decent, but it depends exactly what you need to achieve. Certain types of action, mainly involving people interacting with their surroundings, are harder to do this way, and any significant camera motion makes life very complicated indeed. But it is in effect free, if you can find a big enough green screen to cover the action - and of course you still need a place to set up.

 

P


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#3 Lance Soltys

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 03:58 PM

Yeah, finding locations for no-budget stuff is really rough.  However, with your cave..

 

First off,  the make-your-own-cave idea might not be so bad when you consider all the perks.  If you were in a real cave, how would you light it?  Where would you get electric from?  If you could find a big room somewhere, or even a large self-storage locker, and build your cave set, you'd have the luxury of shooting when you want to for as long as you want to.  Also, by building in panels, you could make some break-aways so you could put in light.  Also, I picture the inside of a cave as pretty dark (maybe lit by fire?) so the darkness would help cover up any issues with your set.  Also, if you find a real cave, you have to get your actor and crew out there and probably put them up.  I think there are a lot of pluses to shooting this in a studio type thing.

 

If you still want a real cave, keep in mind, there are a lot of decent size caves on private property, especially around Kentucky.  We stayed at a rental house once in Kentucky that had their own cave on their property.  It wasn't huge, but might be usable depending on how you shoot it (also you might be able to use their electric.)  There's also a great big cave in Pennsylvania called Laurel Caverns.  They run it as a tourist wild cave business, so they would probably want some money, but maybe not much, it's a small operation.  I remember them being kind of fast and loose with proper cave maintenance so they might let you shoot in there.  You may want to try contacting your local spelunker society, maybe go to a meeting, and they may be able to help find you an accessible cave.  Please keep in mind, that real caves (as opposed to tourist caves, or sets) can be quite treacherous to get around in, especially with equipment.  If you go in by any more than a few feet they get dark really quick and very often have nothing even close to smooth surface to walk on.

 

If you can, I would go with the set.


Edited by Lance Soltys, 31 October 2014 - 03:59 PM.

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#4 Osman Arslan

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 05:40 PM

Thanks for your input Phil. I just thought about something. Maybe I can use some muslin background fabric with rock design and chicken coop wire. I could use chicken coop wire to build the skeleton of the cave and cover inside of the frame with these muslin background fabrics to finish the cave. I could set in under some trees so I can tie the frame from multiple points to the branches of the trees. I have found some muslin fabric online look exactly like this but 1 6th of the price. http://www.bhphotovi...Background.html This is what I've found on B&H for over $300 10 feet by 20 feet. On another website they sell these for $60. So if I get 8 of these I think I would have enough fabric to create the cave. I could just use paper mâché panels painted like rock walls and use that instead but it would take long time to do that. Do you guys think that it would work?
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#5 Osman Arslan

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Posted 31 October 2014 - 05:52 PM

[quote name="Lance Soltys" post="418399" timestamp="1414789085"]Yeah, finding locations for no-budget stuff is really rough.  However, with your cave..
 
First off,  the make-your-own-cave idea might not be so bad when you consider all the perks.  If you were in a real cave, how would you light it?  Where would you get electric from?  If you could find a big room somewhere, or even a large self-storage locker, and build your cave set, you'd have the luxury of shooting when you want to for as long as you want to.  Also, by building in panels, you could make some break-aways so you could put in light.  Also, I picture the inside of a cave as pretty dark (maybe lit by fire?) so the darkness would help cover up any issues with your set.  Also, if you find a real cave, you have to get your actor and crew out there and probably put them up.  I think there are a lot of pluses to shooting this in a studio type thing.

Thanks Lance. Sorry I saw your post after posting my comment. Yes I think building it by myself would be a lot better. Since I have all the tools to shoot it I can spend some money on building this thing. I have equipment to shoot and edit. Yes with my framing and lens choices I can get do it I think. Thank you for your comments I will try to find some private property caves. That would be great if it works. Like you said maybe it won't be that expensive. I have no idea how small or big it is but I would probably pay more or less $1000 for a real cave. I will see. Thanks guys.
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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 12:44 AM

You could try a winery. I dunno about NY, but in California some wineries use natural caves for storing their stock. We also have the occasional beach with natural caves. There must be some National or State parks upstate with caves where you can get permits to shoot.
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#7 Osman Arslan

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Posted 02 November 2014 - 03:13 PM

You could try a winery. I dunno about NY, but in California some wineries use natural caves for storing their stock. We also have the occasional beach with natural caves. There must be some National or State parks upstate with caves where you can get permits to shoot.



That's a good idea Satsuki Murashige. I checked some wineries around NY after reading your comment and even wrote to them. Unfortunately I keep getting an error message saying mailbox is temporarily disabled. So I will try again later and if this one doesn't work I will try the others. The one I wrote to has the exact cave that I would like to have. I hope it'll work out. Thank you so much everybody. This is an amazing website full of helpful and experienced people. Just by reading other people's questions and comments I am learning more than I was learning at film school. Have a good one.
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#8 Sam Javor

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 09:24 AM

I believe that a couple of low budget indie projects have used spray foam to make caves.... lots of spray foam....  here's one example


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