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Tim Bradstreet

Dark Country Production Diary

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This thread is now going back live. I'm going to add a little bit back each day so it can be re-experienced as it was initially intended.

I've gotten word back from Sony that the Production Diary is A-OK and good to go, legally.

 

Initially, we had over 6000 views to the Production Diary since filming began on Dark Country in mid October until it was parked in lieu of legalities in December.

From industry professionals, to friends, family, and fans. We thank you all for your interest!

 

Now let it all come back out of the darkness . . . Until the film is released, at which point we will in fact be entering The Dark Country

 

Remember to be patient while the pages load. There are a lot of graphics so if you have a slow connection it could take a minute.

 

- Tim Bradstreet

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Day 1 -

Nothing too exciting to report. Took off out of San Diego and hit Albuquerque around 4:00pm.

Met Tom Jane, director of photography Geoff Boyle, and producer Patrick Aiello at the airport and hit the road toward our respective living quarters. The guy at my hotel is checking me in and says "OK, you're with us for 72 nights, blah, blah, blah. . . " I'm thinking, that's something I'm not used to hearing when I check into a hotel . . . 72 nights? Sheesh.

Well it's going to end up being way less 'cause Jane called an hour later and he wants Boyle and myself out at the same place where he's staying so we can stick close, pow wow and basically be a three-headed creative machine as we move forward to make this film. And I gotta tell you, sitting with Tom and Geoff at dinner tonight was a great start. There is a long road ahead but you couldn't ask for a better team of bastards. There is a tremendous vibe and synchronicity between the three of us. Visually we have such an amazing direction for this film. I know we're setting out to create something special. Got almost 3 weeks of preproduction to get it all together and then the time for talking will be done.

But first thing's first. Tomorrow morning we'll get an EARLY start as we'll be scouting locations from dawn 'til the moon barks.

See you then.

 

- TB

 

Just added - Unofficial B movie poster by TB

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Day 2 -

Good start, got some of the essential locations scouted. Found some really neat stuff but we're still holding out for something better for our 3 main sets. Got a lot of our road loactions sorted to a point. I suspected DP Geoff Boyle of genius but I'm quickly realizing that is somewhat of an understatement. I've always wanted to hang out with and pick the brain of an honest to goodness Cinematagrapher and Geoff is truly one of the special ones. I never professed to be an expert of photography, I'm by the seat of my pants all the way, never had formal instruction. My only real gift (if you can call it that) is my eye. Lighting is guerilla warfare to me. I monkey with it until I get what I want. A lot of that is trial and error along with a healthy portion of happy accidents. It's like when I play pool I can shoot slop with the best of them. But Boyle is fucking Minnesota Fats. Even though I'm in no way connected to actual photography on this production I'm taking it upon myself to assume the non offical role of Geoff's Padiwan learner.

 

Jane is impressing me much. It'd be easy to let this thing get too big for you and get overwhelmed first time out as a director. But he's in control every step of the way. When he's not pouring through storyboards and making notes seemingly ALL the time, he's challenging everyone to go the extra mile. He has a very clear vision and he's not accepting stuff that will simply "work".

Looking at locations today everyone was very impressed with a lot of the stuff we saw. Tom would often say, "Yeah, it could work, but I'm not interested in "could work", I want you to show me IDEAL" (I'm paraphrasing). It's a process. You have to start somewhere. It'd be very easy to "settle" for something that could work, but it became clear today that TJ isn't going to allow anyone to phone it in, including the location scout. Today was a crash course. And the people that haven't worked with Tom before just got served notice that this guy most certainly knows what he's doing, which was cool. Everyone wants to rally around him and and get this thing right. One thing became very clear. We got us a General and his troops are ready to fight with him.

 

 

- TB

 

DP, Geoff Boyle and Director/Star, Jane

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One of our many possible locations.

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Day 3

 

Monday proved to be very successful. We found our motel exterior for the opening of the film. It's as if the Gods were looking out for our director as we pretty much simply stumbled upon the location. We were in the neighborhood looking at motel signs, trying to find something close to what we wanted for our opening shot. Lo and behold, directly across the street we discovered a motel that was not on our list of possibilities for one of our main sets. We spent almost 2 hours breaking down scenes and possible set-ups for the shots in our story boards. Geoff Boyle pretty much figured out exactly how he'd want to shoot it, time of day, splitting time by using two cameras and getting twice the coverage, basically working out the ballpark logistics of shooting everything we needed for the opening scenes at one location. We'll only have to do a few basic shots on stage in our controlled environment. We got REAL lucky finding this. Cool thing too is that occasionally ideas can spring out of a location that you may not have considered when only "imagining" what something might look like.

We definitely "built on" and improved some of the shots, angles, and lighting ideas based on the reality of this spot.

 

I got massive photographic coverage of everything and am finally finding the time to dig through the shots and begin to put together a concise breakdown of our elements. Certain things like the motel room exterior will require set dressing and we're going to be calling on some of our friends to supply paintings for the interior which I think is VERY cool.

 

Monday night Tom, Producer Patrick Aiello, and I got to kick back and relax a little. We discussed everything from casting, to music and sound design long into the night. Dinner, drinks, and a great skull session. There was a nice synergy and we got a lot accomplished in terms of intangibles.

 

Day 4

 

I began the day working from my hotel room where I have my 3 big external hardrives headquartered. I gathered a lot of my reference for the production design and compiled it all into a slideshow to present to the design team. I rolled into the office around 3pm and jumped into a meeting between Tom, DP Geoff Boyle, and Dylan, our 1st AD. They were going through the storyboards shot by shot to determine what would be photographed practically, what would be "plated in", or composited, what would be shot on location, and what would be shot on stage. They (I was pretty much an observer) pretty much broke down the whole thing during the course of the rest of the afternoon. Boyle is a master problem solver. There will still be a lot of hurdles to clear but today solidified much of the gameplan.

 

Tuesday eve I headed back over to Tom and Patrick's hotel and we enjoyed another fruitful skull session. We may have nailed down our composer, and if we do get him it will be a major victory for the production. We spent a lot of time listening to music, much of which I have been compiling in my spare time. Tom and I have been working together for months discussing options for the several music (as opposed to score) cues that will be a part of the film. We made a lot of progress on that front. Tomorrow afternoon I will meet with Tom and designer Billy Ray. We'll go through the entire script to determine what props and set pieces we will need to acquire or manufacture. Then we'll start designing.

 

I started out on the film as a "visual design consultant". In 4 short days I've already been (unofficially) promoted to "Production Designer". I'll get enough hours in the first 2 weeks of shooting to join the union and should be able to wear the title by the end of the film. Originally I was signed on for 4 weeks of work. 3 weeks preproduction and 1 week of shooting. Now I'm in for the full ride. I'm pretty surprised and very stoked to say the least. I had no real "practical" experience when we began but it seems I must be doing something right. I certainly do not feel like I'm out of my element. One thing I can tell you is that I'm having a hell of a time diving in and attempting to pull my weight. I'm working with a ton of people that do this movie making thing for a living, and they have made me feel like a member of the family.

I feel like I have a lot to live up to. I'm just trying to absorb as much as I can and put my skills to the best possible use.

 

- TB

 

 

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Sorry no new post in a while. It's just been tremendously busy the last week.

More location scouts, lots of designing, and my spare time has been taken up dealing with my wife and daughter and the drama that has been the southern California wild fires. It seems like whenever I leave town for an extended period I inevitably get a call from my wife where she says "OK, if I have to evacuate, what do you want me to save?"

In other words - All your shit is going to go up in flames, what tiny part of your life do I rescue? Keep in mind that we have 1 SUV to haul 3 dogs, 2 people, with about 4 square feet of room left over for all of your artwork.

The whole thing just drags you down. Depressing with a capital "Fuck You".

 

Luckily they never did have to evacuate, even though the town was saying it was mandatory.

They say leave your house and leave the doors open. Huh? Leave my doors wide open so someone can loot my leftovers while my family is holed up in a hotel room. Not a fucking chance. My pool is now black (or so my wife tells me), filled with ash, debris, etc . . . OK, the looters can have my pool.

 

Anyway, back to Dark Country.

 

Day 5 through day 12.

 

Let me encapsulate. We've got all our locations but one and it's small. We'll get it before we have to film it.

By this time we'd like to have all that sorted out but having 99% of the locations locked up at this point is a blessing.

Now we know what we're working with, what has to be dressed, what time of day/night we're shooting it, all that stuff.

So now we're able to schedule our days for filming. I'm busy designing hard locations, signs, set dress, and other things I can't talk about. Tom told me today that he's putting me in charge of our second unit cameras when they go out to shoot backgrounds for all our plates. Meaning, we'll be shooting road footage from the front, back, and both sides of a custom vehicle. We're shooting a lot of night stuff but we're also shooting a lot of "day for night" material which we'll "grade", or "darken". We'll strip out the existing sky and plate in our own night sky in post. Pretty cool stuff. I'd love to get even more technical but even I do not fully understand stuff when Tom and our DP, Geoff Boyle start talking about Red's, Dinosaur's,

and all the other camera equipment we're using. By end of filming I'll have gotten a real education.

 

Days are spent coordinating with our myriad of departments so everyone is on the same page. I've been working a lot with our Set Decorator, Billy Ray. He's a good dude with tons of experience and I feel weird every time he comes into my office to OK something with me. It seems kind of surreal that I'm telling this guy what to do. But it's all cool. We got straight from day one. I just told him I'm new at this - I know what my responsibilities are; I'm your conduit to the director, Tom is relying on me and my vision to help him deliver his. I'm relying on you to show me the ropes. I simply gave him my respect. So that's all been smooth as silk. Basically as I stated above I'm unofficially the Production Designer, but I won't be able to wear that title because I don't have enough hours logged yet to get in the union. This film will give me those hours, but officially I'll be called "Graphic Consultant". Why do I hate that?

 

Anyway, we've also been going through all kinds of casting craziness. Just when we think we got the perfect guy for the perfect part something fucks it up. So we're still trying to cast our two remaining speaking roles. The guy I really wanted for the Sheriff had to pass today because of scheduling conflicts. He won't even necessarily be working. The film he's doing now wraps on the 17th of November. We needed him to start on the 18th. But now the studio he's working for says they need him to "stand by" until the 20th in the event they need to reshoot anything. AHHHHHH! Just like that, we lose him.

But all that will get sorted. There are still some great people on our list so I remain optimistic we land that perfect actor.

 

Yes, it's weird that I'm talking about casting as a production designer, but Tom has made me a much larger part of this whole thing because he trusts my instincts in these matters. We also talk a LOT about music and sound design. We pretty much skull about every aspect of the film. It's really is a lot like making comics but on a much larger scale.

 

Here is a cool thing. When we leave work for the day we don't really stop working. We get back to our hotel and Tom, Geoff, Patrick, and I usually head straight to the back deck of the bar/restaruant where we continue to skull, theorize, problem solve, and realize the film between the four of us. Patrick's setting up deals, Tom is making calls to potential actors, editors, Geoff is breaking down shots and working out the best ways to shoot certain sequences, we're all on our laptops doing research and bouncing ideas off one another, it's a total riff and it's a complete blast.

Tom hit it on the head tonight when he announced "THIS is where the movie is being made." Out back, behind the scenes, between the four of us. And that is certainly true to a point. Creatively speaking. It's all preparation. Every sit down we have after hours is productive. It always launches us into the next day.

 

Only a little over a week of preproduction left. Still so much to do.

Time to get back to it.

 

- TB

 

Some more pics for you lot - Keep in mind, none of this is from the storyboards. These are coverage shots only.

 

Motel location exterior - underexposed at magic hour. Lighting test

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Diner interior.

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Director Jane, and 1st AD Dylan (Die Wölfe) Hopkins survey the scene at the arroyo.

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The Dark Country team - From left to right - Line Producer Karri O'Reilly, Jane, Set Decorator Billy Ray, AD Dylan Hopkins, DP Geoff Boyle, and Location Manager Alan Swain at the arroyo.

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A sliver of DP Geoff Boyle, Tom Jane - On the road to Hell.

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Jane's reaction to hijinx in the van.

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This is a sidebar to daily production but I had to shine the light on Dave Allcock for a moment.

 

Dave is the man who flew over from merry 'ol Blighty months and months ago to create the storyboards for Dark Country, under the watchful eye of TJ. Dave stayed at Tom's pre-Patricia pad in the hills and slept not 10 feet away from that supercool Mickey Mantle uniform Tom wore in *61. Yeah, that's cool. But aside from kicking it in a supercool pad in the hills for a week and fighting the life draining jet lag, Dave cranked out some amazing boards. Not only that, he did dozens of preproduction drawings. He threw the whole thing together in one large volume that we affectionately call "The Bible". Now remember, this is a 3-D film. So Tom then got together with Ray 3-D Zone and came up with a "color key".

Tom went through the entire bible of storyboard pages and coded it all in color. Each color represents a three dimensional depth in the frame. So cool.

 

Having the storyboards finished before we started actual preproduction allowed us to dig straight in when our preproduction did actually begin. We all have copies and "The Bible" is always with us. Dave also spent a lot of time reworking some scenes as the script changed. So he's been a HUGE part of this thing even though he's 10 hours away in London. Oddly, we feel his presence every day. With any luck, Dave will also be doing the art for our planned "Dark Country" graphic novel. You can check out his work at - http://www.kinetik-art.com

 

So the Day 13 report is this -

We supposedly have 2 days off a week, Thursday and Friday. Well . . . When you're working on a modestly budgeted film the truth is . . . There really aren't any days off. I planned to work on a cover in my hotel room all day but got called in at noon and didn't make it back here to get to the cover until 6:00. Lots of details to oversee. I had to confer with the costume designer over some VERY cool things I can't discuss, then had to work with our prop guy Jason on a couple things. Spent all afternoon working with the set decorator too. Then our still photographer showed up that was another small meeting. Boyle's off to LA to meet with our Camera suppliers and whip them into shape. Tom left today to spend the last two days he could afford with his wife and daughter. So tomorrow (another attempt at a planned day off to get this cover done) is now booked as I have to go on another location scout to obtain our last remaining exterior.

I'm feeling a little pressure because with our two most important elements gone, it's left to my eye to decide if the location will work or not. It's not all on me to be sure. Our line producer and first AD will be there too, but they are more practical rather than creative, and we really have to nail it. I'm probably making too much of it. but it's one of those things where you HOPE Tom comes back and says "Spectacular!", not "uh, is that the best you guys could do?"

 

Anyway, I have more work to do before I play head meets pillow.

More soon.

 

- TB

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Officially this is day 20 of Preproduction.

I think my last entry should have been "Day 14", but I think I posted it after midnight so really it was day 13 even though technically it was day 14 when I posted. In the end I guess it doesn't really matter.

What DOES matter is this -

 

Nailed that location we needed. Last road we looked at and pretty much our last hope of finding something that could work bore major fruit as we not only found something for the specific shot we needed, we also got a reverse POV for the scene preceding it. Someone was smiling down on us. Showed Jane pics of it Sunday night and he loved it. But he truly freaked out when he actually saw it with his own eyes yesterday. And actually we're going to get three shots out of the location without moving base camp. Success!

 

The past two days have been a major tech scout with all pertinent members of the crew. All our cameramen (I'll get specific next entry), grips, gaffers, etc . . . We had 20 people roving all our locations piled into two extended vans. LONG days but we got so much sorted. Howard, our first camera, is a freak of nature and along with Geoff and Tom is really going to make this film special. Do not doubt the voracity of that statement. We have gotten so lucky to have assembled this dream team. The two day tech scout concluded today with an extended production meeting where we all went over the entire shooting schedule. Everyone was in the house, set dress, props, fx, stunts, along with the aforementioned.

Now THAT was a packed room. The first half of filming is all our location stuff, and let me tell ya, it's going to be challenging. We're gonna have some very long days but everyone is so excited about the material and Tom's vision. It's ambitious, but our passion is infectious. Early in the tech scout we had gaffers and grips shaking their collective heads about how nuts some of our set ups are. By the end of the tech scout everyone was contributing, jamming, and fucking gelling. everyone to a person is SOLD on what Tom is trying to do. We are now a unit.

 

The second half of filming will all be on stage where we have two more versions of our "hero car" (the car that Dick and Gina drive through the Dark Country) that will be cut up in various ways so we can film inside, outside, around, and through. All that will be green screen. The car in question is a '61 Dodge Seneca. Totally bitching. And speaking of cars, wait until you get a load of the '08 Dodge Charger we're using for the Sheriff car. That's gonna blow your mind.

So yeah, things are moving along.

 

Tomorrow we have wardrobe tests with Lauren, Tom has stunt stuff to go through with our coordinator, we have meetings going on all day, and I still have some designs to finish. The day will top off nicely as my wife and daughter are in for a visit until the end of the weekend. Luckily, Tom, Patrick, Geoff and I are staying in a bitching resort hotel (the same one principles of 3:10 to Yuma stayed at) so I'm getting my lady a spa day in honor of our forthcoming 11th Anniversary. I get to watch the little girl and it's time I will relish.

 

One of the door guys here is a big Punisher fan so we've hit it off nicely. The other night he was telling me about Russell Crowe being here at the hotel. There was this big fight going on directly in front of the hotel. It's a brawl that started after they closed the bar. A few guys were really going at it hard and it was messy. Crowe walks out the front door, stands there for a few moments taking in the bloodbath, then, to nobody in particular says "That is fucked up", turned around and went back inside. I'm not sure if that counts as a funny story to those of you reading it but the way this dude described it to me it was pretty priceless. Just deadpan, "That is fucked up", and exit. I know . . . It doesn't translate.

 

Anyway, stay tuned. Some of you have been asking questions about our 3-D process. How do we film it? Do we use two cameras? What the fuck does intraocular mean? Well my good friends these questions PLUS even MORE information you DIDN'T ask about will be addressed by guest forum contributor and all star Cinematographer Geoff Boyle in the next 24 hours. Tech nerds stay tuned.

 

And if you can't wait that long to be inundated, nay, showered with Boyle-worthy intel . . . Go check out his brainchild -

http://www.cinematography.net/GEOFF/index.htm

This is Geoff's direct page, check out some of his work and you will be left weak in the legs. Now you can see why we revere our very own Brother Boyle. The man has done it all.

 

Over to you Geoffrey -----------------

- TB

 

PS - a few more pics -

 

Jane surveys one of his shots, which will be this high vantage point looking down on our hero car as it winds it's way through the Dark Country.

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One of our many possible "plate shot" locations. Backgrounds after all, set the scene.

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Just a few of the thousands of spent brass rounds found on the ground of our "Lover's Lane" location.

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Producer and pal Patrick Aiello at the Eagle Pass location.

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Jane proudly displays the RAW t-shirt during day two of our tech scout. What would the desert be without at least one Alien Deathspider?DCflavor728.jpg

 

 

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Day 21

 

I pinched this from Geoff's entry in the "Production Diary Feedback" thread.

I assumed he wouldn't want to F with joing our forum to touch on the technical aspects of this film briefly for us.

Lo and behold, he up and joined our ranks, or came on as a guest, or something.

It's too late at night to go check :)

 

So without further ado, Geoff's entry to the journal.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Hi Guys,

 

OK, some basic technical detail, I'll add to it later :-)

 

In the past, and in fact right now in every case except Dark Country, 3D cameras have been huge beasts, the dinosaur that Tim referred top earlier is in fact an old rig that we've put modern cameras in. It's the same rig that was used on T2 3D edition!

 

We've removed the film cameras and added a couple of Red's. This is very much our second unit camera.

 

Our main camera's are ones that have been built from scratch and have never been used for 3D before.

 

When we shot the 2nd Unit and Miniatures of Mutants (The Mutant Chronicles) we had a prototype camera to play with, and by prototype I really mean that! software upgrades every day, often twice a day, mechanical things very rough. It was great fun to play with and it was TINY! Silicon Imaging had taken the sensible approach of separating the image forming bit from the image processing bit.

 

You then get a tiny camera head, about the size of 2 packets of Marlboro.

 

We did great things with it but I had the idea in the back of my head that this could revolutionise 3D, I said so at the time in a number of articles and on-line posts.

 

Fast forward 12 months and Paradise FX are building a 3D camera based on the SI Mini.

 

The camera has full interocular adjustability and is just so small I could cry.

 

The first version was delivered on Saturday from the machine shop and is still being finished by Paradise.

 

A second even smaller rig has been built by Howard (1st Camera) and we will use this one for the really agressive camera work.

 

This is a fixed parallel design so the minimum distance from an object that it can be used is about 5'

 

In theatres you'll need polarised specs to watch the film, exactly the same system that Cameron is using.

 

As for DVD I think that there will be 2 versions, 2D which will be right eye only and a 3D Anaglyph that you can watch with Red & Cyan specs.

 

Of course if you're in the market for a new TV then Samsung have a 56" set that works in 3D with mechanical shettered specs, it is truly amazing.

 

More later, I've got to go and wrestle Condors & Gators, apparently I've asked for too many :-)

 

Geoff

 

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Thanks so much Geoff. Enlightening intel to be sure.

Brother Boyle will be back periodically with an update here and there so keep your eyes peeled on the journal.

 

Today was very productive, got some final designs out of the way and started creating graded key art to help inspire our vision for this film. I'm basically creating little snippits/compositions based on photos I've taken here with the locations and mixing that with other elements from the film which haven't been practically photographed yet. A kind of digital composite complete with our colors and lighting. I have to get clearance from Sony to show any of it but hopefully I'll be allowed to release some of this soon.

 

Also, great news. It's all done but the final contracts. It looks like we landed the PERFECT actor to play the Sheriff.

I so hate to be cryptic but obviously I cannot devulge the name yet until . . . Again, we get clearance from Sony.

We gotta play by the rules but we should be able to go public on this in a very short while. I can't even give any hints cause even the slightest one would make it too easy. Suffice it to say we landed a veteran. A REAL presence, and he's going to be the perfect fit. Just got back from a fun little skull session with Tom, Patrick and Geoff and we had a great time hashing out this guy's wardrobe and look. With a different actor we would have gone in a different direction but with this guy in mind it practically created itself. Some actors have a built in presence, and given that, we pretty much knew where to fill in the gaps with how we see this guy.

 

We also discovered some other interesting things tonight that will bring additional layers to our narrative. I wish I could be more specific but I'm attempting to refrain from spoiling anything for anyone. I realize that can be frustrating. Just keep in mind that there are certain things which must remain a mystery this early in the game. We want you to see it and absorb it, and not just once. We're attempting to make something here that we can all be proud of 25 years from now. We're not thinking about the next movie. We're totally focused on this animal and with each passing day we discover things. The more we dig deeper inside of this thing the more we expose the inner workings, and it's not until you dissect it 100 different ways that the cream begins too rise to the top. There is no way to shortcut the process. Yes, of course we have the script, and yes we have the storyboards. That is the skeleton and the circulatory system. But we also need to find the muscle and internal organs to this thing. Yes, I know, odd analogy. Forgive me, it is late.

I think you know where I'm going with this.

 

Spending day with family tomorrow so I'll get back to you on Friday.

Filming begins Saturday. This is going to get real interesting by then.

Heh, also, I have to say it was a real kick to see the canvass for my very own Dark Country set chair today.

Color me GEEKED.

 

Cheers - Tim

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Stand by for a nice update. Been busy and have had mega long shooting days. Will update after day 3 of shooting tonight, possibly tomorrow morning. Arroyo chase scenes last night, got in at 5:00AM so we're all beat to death.

More tonight!

 

- TB

 

 

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Location shooting - week one

-------------------------------------

Well we've had our fair share of adversity.

Low budget filmmaking can definitely be a challenge.

Day one of shooting went fairly easy all things considered.

We shot at our diner interior and exterior (two separate locations).

The first leg was pretty fun, all inside and everyone together trying to find a rhythm.

Definitely a challenge to get almost 70 people together who have never worked together all on the same page.

But all said everyone got it done. Got some interesting shots and contributed where I could.

Second part of the day was spent at the exterior location and that was amazing. The set dress team and I pulled out all of the stops to make a gas station double for a diner. We built two flats and dressed them onto the front of the existing structure, matched paint, added signage, weathered the whole thing complete with two windows with blinds to match the interior location. Tom had a very ambitious shot in mind for his exit from the diner. From Tom exiting, walking around the car, getting in the car, and driving away out onto the highway off into the distance. Howard did an amazing 360 degree pan around the whole thing as all the action was taking place. All in one sexy single shot at magic hour. I really can't wait to see that on screen. Howard had a ramp built so he could fake a crane shot and rise above everything once Tom began to drive off. Three takes and Howard was left on the side of the road taking oxygen. We're at 5500 feet above sea level so the non natives are feeling the elevation no doubt.

 

Day two found us in the Arroyo for a car chase. We had a big Lenny arm holding the camera for a few takes and it was a real challenge. The poor cars were choking on dust and having a hell of a time. Our stunt coordinator, Rene, got his truck stuck in a deep crevice but luckily was chain pulled out with no real damage. We froze, we choked back a ton of dust and with all the delays we ended up wrapping at 4:30AM without our last shot. Also had problems with our RED camera earlier in the day and missed two other shots because the camera wouldn't work. Bad software update cost us plenty. I'm condensing here to be sure. The day was long, frustrating, and fucking cold as mold. It was the kind of day that reminded us what lay ahead. A lot of hard work and dedication to pull this thing off.

 

Day three was another beast out on Galisteo Dam Road. A delay getting our Condor (mobile lighting crane) to the location set us back from the start. It was colder and more windy than the previous night. Tom was amazing. Freezing cold and he had a major stunt to do (he's doing 90% of his own stunts). He had to fall out of the car HARD repeatedly along with another stuntman, fighting, rolling, getting the shit beat out of him. The next day he looked like he had the mumps times 10. He really got battered. Lauren too was amazing. She wears a thin little dress (not much more than a slip) in this picture and she had to do a lot outside in the freezer. After each take she'd run to her coat and pile in a heated van where she sat shivering uncontrollably for the next five minutes. This after every take. She never complained. The crew are standing around bundled against it, wearing ski caps, scarves, gloves, etc . . . So believe me when I say that after that night we all gained a lot of respect for that lady. Lauren's really awesome and she laughs at all my jokes so naturally I think she's ace ;)

Halfway through the night Tom and I went back to base camp where we station the trailers and conferred with Rob Hinderstein from KNB EFX while he applied one of our special makeup appliances to one of the extras for a makeup test.

Rob is fantastic and did a wonderful job. We took some test shots so we could study things more closely, made some notes and should have things perfected on that for when it comes to actual shooting. At times it seems we're doing 10 things at once. But there is nothing quite like trial by fire.

 

Day four found us out at Tetilla Peak where we have lots of road shots, tons of little scenes, so we're rooted there for a few more days. This is where we finally started to hit our stride. We had a very challenging shot to get at magic hour and we nailed it. I was positive it was not going to work (I wish I could be more specific). I was sure we'd have to shoot one half of it on location and do the other part of the shot on stage. But once I saw it happen in front of the camera I was stunned. The gag totally worked, amazingly so. I wasn't the only one who was shocked. The DP and first camera were as stunned as anyone else. So that got the day started off right. We were rolling until around 9:30PM when we broke for lunch. We had a minor move to our next location up the road but somehow wires got crossed and no one prepped the location for lights. After lunch we spent over an hour out in the freezing cold waiting for one of the Condors to show up so we could light the scene. Emotion was definitely running high. At least it was a clear night, we tried to stay warm and we whiled away the time looking up at an amazing sight. The night sky, crisp, and pulsing with stars. We watched shooting stars by the dozens streak across the night. A starry night in the high desert is something to behold. Still, even with the delay we made it back to our beds by 4:00AM.

 

Day five was the turning point for all of us. A frustrating and slow 4 days trying to find a rhythm culminated in day where a lot of those kinks started to get ironed out. Still at Tetilla Peak everyone started to hit their stride. We got some amazing shots. The thing that really kick started everything was that there were finally some meaty acting scenes.

After four days of stunts and driving, and turning, and peeling out, we finally realized that we were making a MOVIE!

With actors and dialogue fer Chrissakes! It really gave everyone an extra focus. Tom and Lauren had it dialed in and it was just fun to stand back and watch them do variations on the same scene. And Geoff has cooked up some very simple yet VERY effective lighting, so the shots are just really gorgeous. We shot a fantastic scene mid way through the night that will play out unbelievably in 3-D. Once the crew saw this scene transpire I think they finally realized that this film isn't just another in a long line of jobs. I think they all feel like they are part of something special now. Someone even said something to the tune of "This must be what it felt like to work on something like Star Wars", meaning, we're breaking ground with the equipment we're using and a lot of the things we're attempting. We're doing shots that have NEVER been done in film before. Y'know, take the Star Wars part with a half a grain of salt. It's not like we think we're going to have a billion dollar franchise on our hands, but we do think that this film will change the way people see movies.

 

Oh, and by the way. We did sign a major asskicking actor to play a very important role in the film. It's done, he's ours.

Unfortunately I cannot make the announcement here. Stand by over the next few days for official word on this most excellent news.

 

We were technically off Thursday and Friday but I was almost as busy as I was during the first week of filming. We have several key scenes coming up this week so I had to do a lot more designing and oversee construction on some of our set pieces. Am only getting time to update the diary here late night on Friday. It's just been insane. Back before I started doing production design on this project I reached out to William Stout, who along with being a legendary artist and illustrator, has also done production design for several films, namely "Return Of The Living Dead". I wanted to try and get an idea of what I was in for. I wanted advice, I wanted to sit down with him and learn a few things but we could never get our schedules to line up. So one day we were yapping on the phone and he says this to me "Tim, just look at it this way. Designing a film is like waking up in the morning with little or no sleep and sticking your hand in an electric fan. Then you go to bed, get up and do it all over again." I thought surely he must have been exaggerating; Trying to give new guy the business . . . Nope, he was right on the money. He said "you gotta love it to do it."

And yes, I do love it.

 

And without further ado, a few shots from the past week. All shots in this thread are copyright 2007 Tim Bradstreet. So if you go ripping them off here and posting them elsewhere I expect credit ;)

May not get to another update until end of our work week but am attempting to get a guest post from our 3-D Technical Advisor, Ray 3-D Zone. Stay tuned.

 

- Tim

 

My favorite photo so far - DP, Geoff Boyle blocks out a scene in the Diner.

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Dick stares into the mirror at the Stranger, played by Chris Browning (3:10 To Yuma).

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Boyle and Jane silhouetted on the lost highway.

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Our "hero" car, '61 Dodge Seneca.

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The crew at the Arroyo chase sequence.

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Hero car 1 and 2. I've graded this pic along with the next shot to look very similar to the film.

That's Gaffer, Lenny Hoffman rigging lights inside car #2.

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You just gotta love the lighting . . . AND the car.

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Jane prepares to run the scene.

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Week 2 - day 1

 

After week 1 location shooting concluded last Thursday morning around 4:00AM I was very much looking forward to the cast and crew's two days off which are Thursdays and Fridays. Silly me. We are a low budget production so days off are really just words on a piece of paper. I spent my time working round the clock on details and designs for the next week's shooting.

The work in question was directed at our Saturday location, the Motel.

One of the major set pieces I designed was a special "motel sign" which is the opening of the film. So Thursday and Friday were spent overseeing final construction, painting, ageing, and installation of the sign lights, all at various stages.

I even jumped in and worked on the behemoth myself (very fun stuff). Also there was dressing a soda machine (I say "pop" machine). We didn't want to use a standard Coke machine (even though we had clearance to do so) because one of the things we're trying to establish within the context of this film is a strangeish "out of time" feel. In other words, this film is very much a homage to film noir, Hitchcock, the cinematography of artists like John Alton, Sid Hickox, Nicholas Musuraca, Ernest Laszlo, and Charles Lang. As such we want to avoid it being rooted completely in our current time period. There are other reasons for this as well. So Tom and I agreed that the soda machine should feel a bit out of time.

I went for a retro 50's - early 60's feel, but with a twist . . .

 

One of things that is so very fun to do when production designing is getting to add "in" jokes into the mix. The soda machine offered a perfect opportunity. We wanted a non existent bottling company to represent in our film so we decided to do a little disguised self promotion. So our Coke is "RAW Cola". I even got to incorporate the Alien Deathspiders from Bad Planet into the design as they look so much like a retro "sparkle" design. But even more fun then that was creating RAW Soda Company's different flavors. "Dr. Falcon" is our version of Dr. Pepper (Veronica Falcon is a main character in Bad Planet). We slipped in a plug for our 1st Cameraman's company MK-V with "MK-V Energy Drink". We represented the Paradise FX team with "Grape Paradise". Fan's of Bernie Wrightson will enjoy spotting "Wrightson's Old Fashioned Root Beer". The final flavor was "Agent Orange", which just seemed fun to me ;)

We even had can wraps made for the scene where Tom's character goes to the soda machine for a tasty beverage.

Fun stuff to be sure.

 

I won't bore you with more details of the rest.

So let us slip into day 6 shooting.

Very frustrating beginning of the day. It was essential we get the first shot which involves our "Lenny" arm crane doing a very difficult maneuver with the AR camera mounted 38 feet in the air for a complicated tracking shot. It's the whole opening of the film, very Hitchcock. Problem is we had power lines very near to where we needed to be. We worked out a deal with the power company last week to make sure the power was shut down on the lines for a block of time so we could get our shot. Unfortunately the power was still on! We made frantic calls and finally someone was dispatched to take care of it . . . Way too late. This is a "magic hour" shot with around a 20 minute window to get the shot. Also, as I mentioned, the maneuver is very difficult so it requires some rehearsal time in order to work out all the kinks between our cameraman, grips, etc . . . Well we couldn't even do that. By the time the power company showed it was too late and we had to scrap the shot for the day. Luckily we did get the shot on Sunday and it was magnificent. But it split our units and cost us time we could ill afford to lose.

 

The rest of Saturday's shoot went very well. After the gaff with the opening shot we moved back into the motel parking lot for a master shot of Tom's character walking to his room. We already had lights in place and the RED set up and ready to fire. That went off without a hitch. It was very nice to be in town for the night as it provided us a little more warmth than the high desert, and the buildings protected us from the wind. The mantra was "enjoy it now", cause the rest of the film is back in the brutal wild until we get to stage.

 

We shot the soda machine sequence and then action moved into the motel room interior. Lot's of naked bodies and great lighting by DP Geoff Boyle and our magnificent Gaffer, Lenny Hoffman. The interior set was closed to all but essential personnel because of the delicacy required to achieve the shots we needed from Tom and Lauren.

 

Sunday's location shoot found us back out in the high desert in Tetilla Peak where our heroes discover something very disturbing that I will refrain from sharing. As you know, I'm trying to avoid spoiling anything. You will thank me later.

More cold and wind, another very late night. Rolled in at 5:15AM and I was beat to death as I am fighting off a cold that grabbed me last week. I'm rooted to my hotel room today so I can come back tomorrow at full strength.

Tom is out today as well. He jumped a plane early this morning to attend the New York premiere of "The Mist".

So we have a ghost unit with insert car footage to shoot today out at Galisteo Dam Road. Good luck boys!

 

Here are some pics from Saturday.

And stay tuned oh lucky ones . . . Our very own 3-D Effects Producer RAY 3-D ZONE jumps in with a guest diary entry NEXT!

 

- TB

 

The Soda Machine design -

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Which delicious beverage flavor do YOU prefer?

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Craning up to the Motel sign.

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Tom and DP Geoff Boyle blocking out the scene.

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Tom Jane rehearses the shot.

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Paradise FX 3-D Digital Imaging Tech Max Penner, and A Camera Operator Howard Smith preparing the AR rig.

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Ray 3-D Zone sharing his amazing 3-D set pics with TJ.

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Nice double update today with the addition of this guest entry by our 3-D Effects Producer, the 3-D pioneer himself . . .

Ray 3-D Zone -

 

Three Dimensions of The Dark Country

by Ray 3D Zone

 

When I first met Thomas Jane three years ago at a meeting of the Stereo

Club of Southern California, he told me how much my 3D comics had meant

to him and he said he wanted to work with me. Boy, did he ever mean

it! That has come to pass with the recently published 3D issue of Bad

Planet #3, which Tom published, and now 3D production of the feature

film The Dark Country which Tom is starring in and directing.

 

I've been making 3D now for 25 years primarily converting flat images to

3D by creating a second-eye view of the art necessary for stereoscopic

vision. That's how we see the world, with two forward-facing eyes

horizontally separated by 2 and 1/2 inches. A 3D artist replicates this

real world vision by creating art for two eyes. This stereo pair of

images is viewed in 3D in a number of ways including red/blue anaglyph,

stereoview cards, twin-projected transparencies, View-Masters or

stereoscopic projection as with 3D slide shows and movies using

polarizing glasses and a silver screen.

 

For the past ten days I've been on location in New Mexico with The Dark Country as a 3D FX Producer. To prepare for 3D filming Tom and I spent two weeks hand-coloring the storyboards of the film creating a "Color Depth Graph" for every shot. Elements that were colored Red and Orange come off the screen into audience space with Yellow at screen plane and Green, Blue and Purple going back, successively, into deep space behind the screen. This 3D Bible put Director of Photography Geoff Boyle, Camera Operator Howard Smith, and 3D Technician Max Penner on the same page for screen composition in depth.

 

3D photography is rugged in The Dark Country with cast and crew working

late night hours bundled up to stay warm in near-freezing temperatures

out in the vast desert spaces. Sometimes the ambiance is ideal for the

scene as when the wind was blowing, kicking up dust, which made

beautiful diffuse lighting effects that were perfect for the story. It

was a highly dramatic moment in the narrative and, despite the inclement

weather, Lauren German, our heroine, and Tom acted up a storm with

amazing precision.

 

The technology for 3D photography of The Dark Country is truly

innovative with two HD heads capturing at 2K resolution. The two HD

heads are tiny compared to the film cameras used previously to shoot 3D

movies. This allows for highly mobile and fluid camera movement during

photography. The twin HD units were built by Max Penner, Tim Thomas and

the 3D wizards at Paradise FX in California. Howard Smith provided

input for the camera assembly so that it would work with his mobile "AR"

rig, a revolutionary new form of steadicam in which the cameras maintain

the horizon. Another stereoscopic innovation is the use of dynamic

variable interaxial in which the distance between the two cameras can be

actively changed while cameras are rolling. The stereoscopic motion

picture photography in The Dark Country is unprecedented, particularly

with the camera movements that powerfully reinforce the compelling

narrative. It's a real breakthrough for 3D movies.

 

My friend John Rupkalvis will be on location and the soundstage for 3D

shooting of behind-the-scenes (BTS) and interview footage. This is

another "first" in 3D movies. Until now, there has never been BTS

footage shot in 3D. This will create new promotional and advertising

opportunities for The Dark Country and be a great added-value feature

when it is released on DVD. To shoot the BTS footage in 3D, John is

using a compact twin HD rig with two cameras mounted side-by-side on a bar.

 

It's also great fun working with Tim Bradstreet who is handling

Production Design on The Dark Country and doing a great job. First, I

converted Tim's art to 3D for Bad Planet #3 and now I get to hang with

him and Tom on the set of The Dark Country. Speaking as a 3D man, I can

tell you that it doesn't get any better than this!

 

Thank you so much Ray!

It's such a pleasure to have Ray as a part of our family on this film.

His knowledge is invaluable to all and he offers it with a kind and gentle reverence and excitement that infects us all.

 

And now, some of Ray's pics. Just so you know, Ray has a very unique camera that shoots in 3-D.

I'll have to get a shot of it cause it looks so fucking wierd ;)

You'll need to view this pic with red/blue anaglyph glasses (RED lens LEFT eye). If you don't have anaglyph glasses go out and buy a copy of Bad Planet #3 in 3D to get 'em!

 

3-D photos by Ray 3-D Zone

 

Tom and First AD Dylan Hopkins consult "The Bible".

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Line and Co-Producer Karri O'Reilly and Bradstreet, fooling around on set.

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Our hero cars on the truck.

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DP Geoff Boyle and Dylan Hopkins go over the next set up.

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Tom and Karri O'Reilly at the Diner set.

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Tim and Tom plan the "Just Married" soap job on the trunk of the hero car.

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The finishing touches.

Tim.jpg

 

OK kids - more later this week.

Back to the great outdoors and onward to our rest area location.

See you soon.

- TB

 

 

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Just a few fun little items before I bounce out for the day. . .

 

Just added to the beginning of the thread - The unofficial Dark Country Style B poster by TB.

Darkcountryposter2f.jpg

 

All is not right, nor what it seems in the Dark Country.

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RAW Cola can wrap design by TB.

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A redesigned rest area sign for Dark Country by TB.

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Another Ray Zone 3D pic - Howard J. Smith, Jane, and the custom 3D camera rig . . . IN 3D!

HowardTom.jpg

 

The design for the motel sign which opens the film - By Timmy B.

MotelSign2F.jpg

 

Going to be a real late night so hopefully will update Wednesday morning.

We're at the rest area rest of the week. Should have some cool shots.

 

- TB

 

 

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Bit of a lag on updating, apologies.

 

It's funny how the days start to blur together when I don't update daily.

Last Tuesday and Wednesday had us out at our rest area location. For two nights we were rooted at the ass end of Tetilla Peak road where there is a kind of a campground that we converted and dressed to double the rest area. We imported giant street lamps and mounted them to phone poles to create our parking lot. They looked very much like the top of the stalks on the Martian landing craft from "War Of The Worlds" (the original), so naturally I kept trying to mimic the sound effects of the disintegration rays whenever someone would refer to the giant bastards. Shooting went well on Tuesday and we were fortunate to be joined by our good pal Quint, from "Ain't It Cool News.com", which made it even more fun.

Quint got to witness me and a small gang completely cover the rest area bathroom in graffiti, only to have to clean all of it off when Tom let us know we'd gone overboard. It all started off innocently enough, a bit of graffiti here, a bit there, then I got called away to deal with another issue. When I came back an hour later the walls were COVERED. It seems everyone wanted to pitch in, but there was no one left to govern the unruly bastards ;)

So my on set greensman/set dresser Alan May and I set out to clean as much as we could off while we waited for paint to show up. We had to assume we'd be shooting inside the restroom that night so we were locked in "get it cleaned off NOW" mode. Fortunately we were joined by one of our set PA's, Nate Helm. Together, along with copious amounts of "Goo Gone", Windex, 409, and a fat pack of steel wool, we were able to clean the walls in just under two hours. My fingers and arms still hurt. Then we ended up not shooting the bathroom sequence until the next night . . . Hey, at least it was done, right?

 

Also had to age and fade a map which is very important to our scenes. That was fun. While I was cleaning bathroom walls and working my dainty little fingers to the bone, Quint was hanging out with our wonderful PR guy David Linck. Long night. I think we got back in around 4:30am.

 

Wednesday we were back, this time aging and dirtying up cars in the parking lot. Had some cool stuntwork and that was fun to watch. Lot's of coverage and some good dialogue scenes with Tom and Lauren. Good stuff. It got ridiculously cold that night and we ended up losing ALL our War of the Worlds lights because when they were powered off, they shattered because of the radical shift in temperatures. That's how we overcame the Martian invasion, by not letting the lights burn until the temperature came back up. Thankfully we would not be needing them again . . .

 

This was followed by two more days off . . . which as we all know by now were WORKING days off. Thursday though we were treated to finally seeing some 3-D footage that we'd spent the last two weeks shooting!!!

Some 2-D too, as it takes very long for the 3D to render. That was mondo cool because we finally got to feast our eyes on a lot of the very cool stuff we'd captured. Everyone was massively excited by the stuff we saw. Quint was back in the house as we looked at rushes so it was very cool for us to get to show off some of this stuff to him before he hightailed it out of Dodge. Tom, Ray, Quint and I then headed back to the hotel for some cocktails and some stories. Tom was the first to bow out as he had to get up at 6:30am for a TV station thing. So the three of us reveled in his stead. Then we lost Ray.

Quint and I yakked for a while longer and of course we talked our passions . . . film. Then even Quint had to fade into the night. I already miss the magnificent bastard. Hopefully we'll have him back on set before we're done.

 

Friday we were treated to a cast and crew screening of Tom's new film, "The Mist". I've felt especially close to this film having lived with details coming in from both TJ and the film's director, Frank Darabont for the better part of a year.

It's a wonderful thing when you have so much anticipation built up to see something and it delivers. I'll spare people any spoilers and simply say that Tom is fantastic in the film, and the ending is a real gut punch. And I mean that in the best possible way. Congratulations to all involved. How could my day get any better you ask? I was asking myself the same question, so I went shopping at the local grocer with our DP Geoff Boyle. I love a man who loves wine. Ok, forget I said that . . .

We got back from shopping and I ran into Tom in the bar where we hung out for a while before running back over to the production office to pick out shots for a sizzle reel we needed to put together to show the people that are paying the bills.

We finished up there after a few hours and ended up back in the hotel bar where we devoured some food and yapped about the next day's shooting. We were trying to hold out long enough to greet our compadre Ron Perlman, just in country after 127 shooting days wearing Hellboy makeup in Budapest and Prague. Sleep beckoned so we missed Ron, but not before I borrowed Tom's copy of "Dark Passage" (which I'm watching before bed tonight).

 

Started early today with a 10:30am call. We went back out to Tetilla Peak to shoot plates for a CGI sequence with our Digital FX Supervisor, Jules. Then we had some cool car chase stuff and some great stunts. We broke for dinner and lo and behold discovered Brother Perlman waiting for us in the vittles tent when we arrived. This was Ron's first night of shooting and it was fascinating to watch the crew go all fanboy on the poor guy. Ron's a magnetic dude, it was like watching moths drawn to a flame. He seemed surrounded at all times by adoring hoverer's. Ron and Tom had a great scene tonight which we shot in about 8 different ways. Can't wait to see that footage when it's processed.

We came up with a great rig for Ron to wear as the Sheriff, featuring a gorgeous nickel plated Schofield and a bone handled bowie knife. Tom let me pick it out so I hope you all dig it when you see it.

 

I'm being asked by the powers that be to refrain from posting any shots of Ron or Lauren right now (that's why the Lauren shot is gone from the earlier post). Hopefully I'll get to post some at some point. Sony has been great letting me do this diary thing so don't be too hard on them for wanting to keep a certain few things under wraps. After all, we have to save a few surprises fer ya.

 

Tomorrow we go to the Cholla forest for two days of brutal work before our Thanksgiving break.

More news soon mi compadres.

 

But first . . . Some pics.

 

Ray Zone's incredible Nishika 3-D Quadra Lens.

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AICN's Quint, not at all sure he's shown up on the right set.

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Overkill

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After the cleanup (hand, and business card by Quint).

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More American Graffiti -

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The Mustang

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Small salvage from the Graffiti wall, my cartoon of our intrepid DP, Geoff Boyle.

BrotherG.jpg

 

- TB

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OK, my bad . . . Make that THREE days in the Cholla forest. Cholla (for the uninitiated) are a variety of nasty cactus. I got bit by one a few weeks ago while I was attempting to access the honey wagon . . . OK, the mobile restroom . . . This movie speak is pure hilarity to me. That f'ing Cholla hit my leg like a tiger strike. It pissed me off so much I went to stamping it into the ground (it was a smaller plant), then I abruptly stopped as I realized that was probably a rather stupid thing to do given that the spikes on these bastards are over an inch long and will poke right through the soles of yer shoes. Luckily my leg stung a little but no spikes penetrated the the underbelly of my shoes. And by the way? Real smart to leave a cactus intact in a high traffic area. Some evil bastard probably parked the wagon there on purpose. Come to think of it, it's something I might have done. Now I'm thinking it might have been funny had it not been ME that got ambushed.

 

Anyway . . . So we were in the Cholla Forest for 3 days. There is nothing quite like looking out on a massive forest of cactus . . . cactus EVERYWHERE you look, and someone has the brilliant idea to post a sign that reads "Watch For Cactus", hung around . . . you guessed it . . . a cactus. I started to laugh at the absolute absurdness when it occurred to me that "Oh yeah, most people are complete morons", this message was obviously meant for them. Now normally, just when you begin to consider yourself above the rest of the retched refuse you get a wake-up call. Naturally I walked straight into a cactus.

 

KIDDING!

Nope, only one real fatality on the cactus front. Some poor slob did in fact turn around right into one and got stuck but good, to the tune of a trip to the hospital, which very likely precipitated the signage being hung. To my knowledge, everyone else survived.

 

Oh yeah, we're also making a movie . . .

We had lots of stuff to do over the three days, lots of set dress, and redress, and redress. We had some camera issues that slowed us up some. It seems sand and dust does create a suitable environment for a bit of static electricity. That can create havoc on sensitive equipment. So last night we only had two cameras running instead of the three we'd hoped for.

Didn't stop us from getting some incredible stuff. Wait until you see a Mustang fastback blow through a wall of mesquite in 3-D. Had some very cool crane shots, we had a ton of cops/stuntmen, a load of stunt work . . . In fact we had a very balls out bit of organized chaos going on. Our asskicking Stunt Coordinator Rene Mousseaux, and stunt driver Con Schell know their business inside and out and they got a real chance to show off their skills at the Cholla forest.

 

Again we were dealing with high desert exposure to cold and gusty winds and it might have been a miserable experience had it not been for Ron Perlman (or "The Perl" as we affectionately call him) keeping us laughing with his deadpan humor and bizarre movie stories. His last day working here is coming up this Sunday. It's gonna suck when he heads for home.

But at least we'll be on stage! We have only a few more days of location shooting and then the entire company moves indoors where we will have two cut up hero cars and two green screen stages, among other crazy set-ups.

But I'm getting ahead of meself.

 

Monday night we had a nice visit from Fangoria Magazine's Craig Chrissinger. Craig is working on a piece about Dark Country that will come out a month or two before the film releases. We're hoping to have a cover too! Our Stills Photographer Van Redin and I are having a friendly contest to see who gets "The shot" they end up using. My money is on Van. I got a REAL good one though.

 

We're off for 3 days for Thanksgiving break and then back to work Saturday. Tuesday early afternoon I headed out early to meet our Set Dresser Billy Ray, and 1st AD Dylan Hopkins, to find a suitable location for a critical scene for Saturday's location shoot. There is a lot of ducking and weaving that goes on during production . . . there can be delays on any given day that set you back and force you to reschedule and relocate certain shots. There can be a lot of adapting. For instance, say that there was a hiccup early in a day that meant getting a late start. We know we gotta pull the plug by 4AM, and know we'll never have time to get a few of the set-ups on our shot list for that day, on top of that the company is moving from that location to a completely different one the following day in order to maintain a semblance of schedule.

If you know early on that all shots cannot fit in the day you shoot the stuff you KNOW you have to have and you leave off the stuff that is best suited to shoot elsewhere.

In that case you have to look at the locations you have left to see if any of the shots you missed can work in a different spot. Adapting. If there is no way to do that it means going back to the location and breaking schedule and that costs loads of money, time, and coordination. If you have to add on a day it not only means more $, it also means new permits, signatures, and paperwork, among a myriad of other details. Scheduling location shooting is one of the most difficult aspects of making a film. A production's success is often reliant on how quickly and efficiently it is able to adapt to these types of wrinkles.

 

In the case of this coming Saturday's location shoot, we're attempting to combine two locations into one so we can keep from doing a company move, which is time consuming. By eliminating one of the locations it allows us to use that time more efficiently. In the end we are essentially buying ourselves back a day which we can use for other pick-ups or any other location stuff we still owe. And that list of stuff we owe grows a little bit almost every day ;)

There is just no accounting for all the little setbacks that can happen. With a lower budgeted film there just isn't a lot of wiggle room to buy extra days, so it's a lot of thinking on your feet. It's that trial by fire thing I spoke of earlier.

Thankfully we have fire eaters on hand like our co-producer Karri O'Reilly and our 1st Ad Dylan Hopkins.

The kids are good.

Also consider that in a sense, we're alpha testing a lot of the equipment we're using. We're exploring new territory and experiencing technical issues that are being raised for the first time. Little setbacks add up, but again we're just super fortunate to have the world's leading experts on hand to solve the problems. This film is in many ways a series of firsts.

It's like Photoshop . . . You learn something new every day.

 

Everyone is pretty tired and fatigued from the long cold nights but the 3 day layoff will give everyone a well deserved break and an opportunity to recharge the batteries. I can finally rid myself of this lingering cold.

I won't be going home to be with family over the Holiday so I'm hold up in the room this weekend working on a Punisher cover. I'm helping make a movie here but I also have this thing called a freelance career to maintain ;)

I've got plans to have Thanksgiving dinner with some of my brethren who are also staying behind. We'll break bread and then see a film. Looking forward to that.

 

Anyway, enjoy some new pics and I'll be back soon to share some more of the fun.

Have a great holiday everyone!

- TB

 

PS - Incidentally, be sure to check out my 4th Podcast show for a wonderful on set (kind of) interview with Ray Zone, also talk of Dark Country plus more! And coming up next on the Podcast is a fun little interview with Dark Country Storyboard artist David Allcock. We'll have Jane and more Dark Country personnel on in the coming weeks. All Co-Hosted by my good pal Tom Racine (the one with the radio voice).

Check it here ------> http://www.rawstudios.com/podcast.html

Or search for "Tim Bradstreet" on Itunes.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Ray Zone and another of his amazing 3-D toys, the modified Olympus 3-D boxcar.

DCset3651.jpg

 

A piece of our Cholla Forest set, like a classic scene from a Hammer Studios film.

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Tom J referring to his storyboards between scenes.

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Filming behind the scenes footage is the legendary John Rupcalvis with his retrofitted, customized 3-D digital rig.

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Every night when the sun sets or drops below the horizon is a wonder here in New Mexico.

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Stunt masters Rene, and Con, setting up for a scene in one of our many police cruisers.

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Stud producer and man about town Patrick Aiello and 2nd, 2nd Assistant Director Marcia Woske huddle for warmth.

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The wonderful and talented Chris Browning.

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Actor Chris Browning, Co-Producer Karri O'Reilly, and 3-D FX Producer Ray Zone.

DCset3845.jpg

 

 

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It's a Friday, but I'm not thanking God.

Friday is our Sunday so it's get to bed at a reasonable hour and get ready for the shit to start flying on the morrow.

We're in the studio because of a little storm front that moved into the Albuquerque area last night. We got about a half inch of snow accumulation so there will be no location stuff until it melts away. So we're moving things up a day and going to stage, and we'll reschedule the remaining location stuff.

 

That makes Saturday Ron Perlman's last day. LOTS to do. Have to do gallery shots with Ron tomorrow as well as finish off his scenes. I'm also working hard to lasso him for 10-20 minutes for an interview on my Podcast (be sure to check those out my young and well intentioned little pards) - http://www.rawstudios.com/podcast.html

 

Jane gets back tonight and Patricia A will be around tomorrow for a visit, which I'm quite looking forward to. Patricia is one of the coolest dames on zee planet. It'll be a busy day tomorrow.

 

In the midst of the craziness that IS Dark Country, I am also attempting to stay on schedule with my regular cover gigs. Working on a Punisher cover as we speak . . . and it will be one of my last.

That's right (and I'm saying it officially here first), I believe issue 60 of Punisher Max will be my last on the regular title. It's been a very exciting 8 years of my life working on The Punisher, but I've always maintained that I would leave the book when Garth (Ennis) left and my editor is holding me to it ;)

 

With any luck, the real swan song will present itself in the form of doing some film posters for Warzone. That would be a nice way to go out, right there on top. Incidentally, It's been reported to me unofficially that Lexi, Gale, and company have paid me the ultimate tribute in the upcoming Punisher sequel by naming one of the set locations after me . . . The Brad Street Hotel. Some shots of this location are floating around on line (posted below), but I have yet to confirm this as solid truth from the production. That'd be way cool though eh?

 

OK, lots to do tomorrow so I'm going to close off tonight's update with some more production photos.

Hope you all had a great holiday.

 

- TB

---------------------------------------------------------------

 

Yep, here it is, The Brad Street Hotel!

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One of my graded shots of the motel exterior.

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Another spectacular NM sunset at the Tetilla Peak Reservoir. Sunlight bouncing off the lake created this conflagration in the sky.

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Some of David Allcock's terrific storyboards, color coded for 3-D.

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This one's for James Francis -

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We rolled out of base camp and snuck up on our stunt drivers who were dressed as cops - I thought they were fighting scorpions or something but it turns out all they were doing was choreographing a car stunt with sticks in the dirt.

DCset3630.jpg

 

Jane and "The Perl" rehearsing a scene.

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Set-up for a crime scene.

DCset3816.jpg

 

Portrait of Cameraman Howard Smith, lit by some weird "O" ring lighting contraption he designed and built.

Now I gotta have one.

howard159.jpg

 

 

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The last week of shooting here in Albuquerque was a challenge to say the least.

When you have a 25 day shoot things can get very interesting towards the end.

Apologies for the lack of updates during this time.

Everyone had to work double time, heck, triple time in some cases to get us wrapped on schedule.

 

The week started out on stage, then went to location, then back to stage with the main unit while a splinter unit went out and shot plates. Then we'd have a total stage day, then back out on location with both units. Confusing? It's the topsy turvy world of completing your film when you have both schedule and weather to account for. We basically had to reschedule on the fly at certain times so we didn't find ourselves out on location dealing with delays on account of rain, snow, or massive wind which can gust out in the high desert and freeze you to the bone in seconds.

 

All in all we were VERY lucky.

After almost 4 weeks of shooting we still had a LOT of driving shots to get. After all, this IS a road picture. So we had the insert car a few times this week and a lot more location footage to get. Happily, things worked out well and we got some beautiful stuff.

Monday was a stage day with a splinter unit back out to Montessa Park to pick up some shots there we'd missed on day 2.

I stayed on stage as part of the stills unit and shot textures of the Mustang hero car for our digital FX supervisor Jules.

This consisted mostly of setting up a very flat, very even light environment around the car and then shooting high resolution photos of all of the car's main elements for textures. Front, back, three quarter, all sides and close-ups on quarter panels, doors, and other fine details. We then brought in a scissor lift and shot over top of the car for the roof, trunk, hood, and a complete overhead. These textures are then applied to a 3-D model of the Mustang.

Since I had previous experience working in this fashion, I was recruited to lead this stills team. The even lighting is essential for the modelers. Basically you have to try to eliminate any shadows or spectral light (hot highlights) so there are no holes in the texture for the modelers to have to make up or create on their own. They are basically re-creating the Mustang in a digital 3-D environment. We need it to be accurate to the tiniest detail.

 

Tuesday the main unit hit the road back at Tetilla Peak to pick up a slew of driving shots. they moved around guerilla style all over our 10 mile stretch of closed off highway all day. I was in charge of the stills unit on location. I went out to location at 10am and met our co-producer Karri O'Reilly, and our Transpo co-captain Brian Griggs. Together we laid out tape markers down a stretch of road every 6 feet for about 300 feet. The markers are essential to Jules' FX team as they are points of reference for the moving plate shots, and for the stills shots. Basically Jules' team is recreating that entire environment digitally. Our makeshift stills unit then went to work getting overhead shots of the road from about 20 feet in the air. We needed to see the road from edge to edge so our Key Grip, Robert Johnston helped us create an arm to hold our stills camera, which we connected to a C-Stand and then hoisted as far up as we could get it. We shot on a 20mm lens, pretty wide and that did the trick. I shot remotely from the ground, tethered to the camera. We were required to take one still shot every 3 feet down the road so it practically took us until the sun went down to get all the shots, and not with out some technical difficulties lemme tell ya. We had to stop entirely a third of the way through our shots. We broke down the entire rig and moved down the road so the moving plate unit could get into our location and capture the remaining plate shots they needed. I got a real nice sun burn to mark the event. Sunburn in December? believe me, it happens.

BIG SHOUT OUT and THANKS to Brian Griggs and Dennis Muscari for assisting all day long above and beyond the call. . .

The comic relief was the saving grace.

 

Most of our key unit was strapped to an insert car moving up and down the highway all night. There wasn't a lot for me to do except watch and be in the way so Producer Patrick Aiello and I detached and headed back to the hotel around 10pm.

 

Wednesday was a stage day. I pretty much stayed in my office all day and worked on our cast and crew T-Shirt design.

Around 3:00pm I was called to the stage to read lines off camera to Jane and German for them to play off of. I said, "I'm just reading them right?" Jane says, "No, I want you to act them." Uhg . . . Very uncomfortable feeling to step in cold and try to give real actors something to act with. Especially in front of the entire crew. I felt very awkward. But fuck it. Someone had to do it and I got nominated . . . And not for an Academy Award to be sure. Still, once I'd run through it with them a few times it got easier. The worst part is when I had to scream. A long painful scream . . . I think I'll stick to drawing. It was a good day, hopping between our two green screen sets. While we shot on one, we'd be rigging lights and setting up the next shot on the other depending on what that next shot was. Often times the crew would shoot on just the one car for many different shots so between takes there would be a lot of activity, moving the car for an alternate POV, relighting, etc . . . Again, we had a splinter unit out shooting plates so we got a lot done.

Oh, and I did end up finding time to get the T-Shirt design finished. Turned out pretty cool.

 

Thursday was wrap day.

Last day on set and a LOT of shots to attempt to get.

Geoff Boyle and Howard Smith divided their talents and each led a separate unit throughout the day on stage.

Our B camera operator Georgina stayed with Boyle and Howard went rogue ;)

Boyle and Georgina stuck pretty much to one spot and one car while Howard moved from the second hero car to the Mustang hero car, to the Sheriff hero car, and then to another set where we recreated some of the outdoor conditions for a few shots. It was organized mayhem at it's finest. I think I remember Howard telling me he did 30+ separate shots that day. Unbelievable amount of stuff captured. It was a pretty fantastic day. We had that electricity in the air, everyone on point and focused to get us done on time. It was very exciting to watch. And by 11:30pm we were wrapped.

High fives, hugs, pictures, and a big sigh of relief. 25 days of craziness came to a close. Tom and I arranged for our hotel bar to stay open until 2:00am and invited our cast and crew out for a drink or two or three. We had a good crowd over and it was truly blissful to stop working, relax, and hang out for a few hours.

 

Friday morning I slept in a tad, then hooked up with Jane and drove over to the stage to pack up our stuff as we had a lot of things to ship home. I did a bit of laundry too! I know, exciting right? We finished up there and then hopped in the car and drove downtown to hit a comic shop ("Astro-Zombie" in Knob Hill). We had hoped to find copies of BAD PLANET #4 which shipped last week but came up empty as they were sold out. We signed the "ceiling of fame" alongside David Arquette who had been there a month prior, bought some Epic Illustrated's and vamoosed. We picked up Howard and grabbed some food, then went back to our hotel for a brief moment before heading back downtown for the Dark Country Wrap Party which was held at "STOVE", a cool little art gallery in the heart of Knob Hill. Stove is operated by our good friend Tom Haag, an extraordinary artist. Incidentally, Tom is also the assistant prop master on Dark Country. We very much missed Jason Davis, our prop master, who left us a few days early to jet set around the UK and Eastern Europe.

We had a quasi talent show with RAY ZONE as MC. Ray played us a few wonderful tunes on the guitar, our Gaffer Lenny Hoffman gave us THE CLASH on the accordion, along with some other tunes, but got ran off the stage when we requested "Holiday In Cambodia" You've never heard the Dead Kennedy's until you've heard it played on a squeeze box. Then one of our good pals, Robert Howie showed up, grabbed Jane's guitar, and played a very ingenious (also very intoxicated) Dark Country theme song which he made up while performing it. OK, lot's of drinks, lots of drunks, some hot women, good friends, a few idiots, what can I say, the wrap party was a screaming good time. Big thanks to Thomas Haag and Stove for putting us up and keeping us entertained.

 

Jane and Boyle left this morning, I'm headed out tomorrow. Now the long journey through post begins.

 

I'll be keeping the diary running through this stage as well. Updates will be fewer but updates there WILL BE.

 

Now I apologize as I must thank a great many people. Stand by for pictures.

 

Big, big, huge thanks to -

 

Tom Jane -

Great job my friend. The hardest thing to do as a director has got to be keeping your vision intact when so many people are in there diluting it. You never wavered even in the toughest times. Congratulations man, you did it.

And thanks always for the opportunity. I learned. I learned and I learned. I will be forever grateful.

 

Patrick Aiello - (music from Patton playing in the background)

Without you we could have never done this. Now I know what the model is for a creative producer.

Thanks for all of your help and support ya big lug.

Who's the boss baby!

 

Geoff Boyle -

Standing behind a master while he creates is a wonderful gift Geoffrey.

Truly inspiring to watch you work. Thanks for your patience and your friendship.

 

Karri O'Reilly -

Thanks for everything.

Most of the headaches are finally over dear.

We'll always have Double Dragon!

 

Howard Smith -

You ambitious, talented bastard!

Amazing to watch you work mi bravo. Your mad skills are topped only by your winning smile.

 

Ray 3-D Zone -

You did it pal. Your guidance was essential. A hard road yet you stood tall.

I got a lotta love for someone who ALWAYS has a kind word to impart. Bless you.

 

The Paradise Crew -

As Darth Vader once said . . . "Impressive".

Big thanks to Tim Thomas, Max Penner, Dave, Mick (the lens!), Robert, and VanAWESOME!

Also to Justin. See you guys soon!

 

Billy Ray and his set dress gang, Rachel, Greg, Richard, and Orlando.

You guys were on top the entire way and I cannot thank you enough for making my first time a great time.

If I look good it's because of you lot. Huge thanks also to Emmanuele, John, and the construction gang!

 

Alan May -

Always with a good story. I'll remember cleaning off the graffiti with you and Nate for the rest of my life.

You made the hard times fun.

 

Jason Davis and Tom Haag -

Youz two is the prop kings. Thanks for all of your hard work and for your friendship.

Those nights out in the high desert would have been much longer without you two freaks of nature.

 

The AD's -

Dylan, Brinton, Marcia, and PA's Nate, and Ian.

Nice work kids. Just let me know what mental hospital you guys wind up in so I can send flowers ;)

 

Heather (set medic) -

Thanks for keeping me walking and for the special concoctions of Hot Emergency.

You rock!

 

Stunt Dept -

Rene and Con.

You guys are the bomb. Thanks for your friendship and thanks for the amazing work you did with the fighting and driving.

You did some absolutely stunning work with little prep, a lot of imagination, and a huge set of cajones!

Hats off.

 

Lenny Hoffman -

Storyteller, moviemaker, lighting master.

Thanks for the great stories and for learning me on the big stuff. Hope to see you again pal!

 

Van Redin -

Thanks for your patience and being cool with me shooting in your territory.

Very much appreciated and great working with ya.

 

Transpo -

Big thanks to the man and the myth, Mike Russell, and your amazing gang of malcontents.

Brian Griggs (oh god), my main man Tino (POT), Wende (luvyahoney), Cassie, Natalie, WILD BILL, Gary, Bob, Mark, and the rest of the gang. Big thanks to Brian for helping out on the stills unit that fateful day when the Dodge and the Mustang went out to play. Big love you fuckers!

 

Production Office -

Ringleader John Goodwill, the man behind the woman, behind the man, behind the guy, behind the curtain.

Shannon - Thank you darlin', and thank your mother for saving my life. Stan the F'ing man, Alex (crazylegs) Andrews . . .

and the partimers too!

 

General big fat thanks to -

David Linck! Nikki, Ayla, Sherri, Tony, Paul, Susanna, Don (Krafty), Bruce, Robert, Ron!, The locations gang - Alex, Dennis, Ben, ALAN, etc . . . The magnificent sound stylings of Darryl Frank, Miles/ - George, Frank, RINGO, Lee, Morgan, Coad, and all the grips.

 

Phew!

Now the pics. . . . . And there are a lot. Hang tight while the page loads.

 

Here it is, the 3-D storyboard bible, created by Ray Zone and Tom Jane (boards by Allcock).

DCset3888.jpg

 

TJ doing a lighting test for me, dig the Salty Sam lid.

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The Sheriff's car being rigged with lights by our Gaffer, Lenny Hoffman.

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The Paradise FX crew - Max Penner, Tim Thomas, and The Mick.

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A look at the stage where we where set up with twin green screens.

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First AD, Dylan Hopkins, and Perlman in silhouette.

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Howard Smith McGuiver'ed this contraption together and christened it the "Gene Simmons-magic tongue-dolly armiture",

or something like that. Ingenius little invention really.

DCset4265.jpg

 

Twin 2K.

DCset4272.jpg

 

 

More pics directly in the next update.

 

- TB

 

 

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And the pics just keep on comin'

 

 

Jane, in glorious black and white.

DCset4370.jpg

 

THE Zone.

Zone0890.jpg

 

Howard Smith basking in his default mood lighting.

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Another view of the stage.

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2nd, 2nd AD, Marcia Woske. Cheers Marcia!

DCset4414.jpg

 

The ominous and magnificently munged up Mustang.

mustang.jpg

 

Prowls like a shark in the water.

mustang_0885.jpg

 

A few more to come.

- TB

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A look at our official cast and crew T, design by yours truly. I borrowed a bit of this from a recent Criminal Macabre cover. Howard Smith came up with the idea to use "magic arms" in place of the crossbones.

DCset4413.jpg

 

Jane on set.

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Our DGA members gather for a photo after the wrap!

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I used the T-Shirt design for the wrap party invitations.

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A tiny part of one of Tom Haag's wonderful 3-D sculptures.

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Ray Zone, IN the Zone at the wrap party. That's Jane and Howard Smith at the bar background right.

DCset4424.jpg

 

More news and pics to come.

 

Thanks for your interest.

- Tim

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Alright, the Diary is now re-posted.

Hopefully we can move forward from here and give some updates from post production, with pics.

 

The current update is this.

Tom Jane and Editor Bob Lambert are cutting away on the first edit as we speak.

They might even be done. I know they were close when I talked to Tom the other night.

Then it heads upstairs to Sony. Notes will be taken, given, and applied into a second edit.

Meanwhile we're getting some additional graphic elements in place to be composited into our green screen shots.

Basically we're adding in layers to our environment, plating in sky, star fields, lightening, etc . . .

I believe all of the 3D processing is finished.

Our digital effects supervisor Jules and his team are neck deep in a major sequence and I can't wait to get a look at that.

We have another guy working on a completely separate FX sequence and I cannot wait to tell you who that is.

Just can't say anything yet. It'll be a nice surprise.

 

Music is now a topic of hot conversation and we're making good headway there.

Next up for me is compiling a massive amount of reference and creating some first pass movie poster ideas.

Got one cooking now that has me giddy with delight.

Hope to share some of that soon, at least a teaser.

 

Also, be sure and check out the thread on the Dark Country clip that Ray Zone introduced at Sundance a few weeks back.

Cool stuff ---------> http://rawstudios.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=318

 

Here's a last shot to check out before we begin to get official material from Sony.

 

Thomas Jane losing his sanity in the Dark Country.

Janemustang2.jpg

 

 

More info as it becomes available.

 

- TB

 

 

"Dark Country" and all ancillary materials are copyright 2008 - Sony Pictures.

All graphic content in the production diary thread was photographed or created by Tim Bradstreet

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A special treat for those of you who have been following the diary.

Direct from my Podcast, Depth Of Field comes exclusive interviews with Ron Perlman from the set of Dark Country (from December '07), and director/star Thomas Jane, interviewed a few weeks back. We wanted both fellas on the same show so we had to wait until we could get a block of time to shoot the bull with Jane. It took a while but we finally got it.

 

Join me and my Co-Host, the lovely and talented Mr. Tom Racine for a special 90 minute extended show.

Topics we discuss include - Dark Country (naturally), 3D in films and Comics, Film Noir and the inspirations for Dark Country, Jane on Directing, and a ton more.

 

 

Get it right here ----------> http://www.rawstudios.com/podcast.html

Or download directly from Itunes.

 

- TB

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