Party Tricks - The First Three Days

It's been too long since we've posted here, but we've definitely been busy. Since our last post, a whopping four months ago, we have seen the release of The Turning of Time and the wrapping of Sunday School. (Speaking of, Sunday School releases next week: April 1st.) We have also found ourselves pulled at the Fringe lottery again, so Fringe 2015 will definitely be a thing. The subject of today's blog post is specifically regarding our newest short film: Party Tricks.

Party Tricks is a dark comedy that we've had brewing for some time. Originally written in 2013 it follows two couples at a dinner party. One couple, Nathan and Jennifer, are nervous-- they're new to this sort of thing-- they want nothing more than to impress their new potential friends. Their guests arrive, Johnathon and Allie, and the two seem a little bit off. Nathan and Jennifer hope to steer the night back on track with a little surprise, but each couple have their own idea of what makes their own 'dark secrets' fun.

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We're done our first block of shooting and pick up shooting the second half Friday March 27th. Our last day is March 30th. I have to admit that it's nice to have a full project all shot within two weeks as opposed to the 6 month long affair that was The Turning of Time and Sunday School. 

So far the actors have been absolutely tearing this project up. Sam has been making it look more beautiful than ever and the crew has been on their a-game. Not to mention Laura, our make up artist, has been making sure the actors look particularly bloody and beat up when they need to be. I'm excited to get back on set, as I write this retrospective I get giddy at the idea of being on set again. Four days of shooting left and some of the best stuff left to film, I can't wait-- even though I have to.

Until next time, which will hopefully be a lot sooner than last time, Justin

Overtime - A 24one Retrospective

Overtime, a short film that we shot with Guerrilla Motion Pictures is set for release on Friday. I figured now would be as good of a time as any to talk about it a little bit. A little recap about the whole day of shooting.

On Saturday September 20th, Justin Kueber and I created the aptly named team '201 Guerrillas' and stood eagerly at the downtown Farmer's Market awaiting our prop and theme. What we got was a confetti popper and the selection between three different phrases said by recently deceased celebrities. Him and I travelled down to Press'd in the bowels of City Centre to plan out our short film. Our initial idea was something with an editing style akin to 24, but that idea left pretty quickly as we are much better writers than we are cinematographers or editors. We still kept a bit of our ambition with a phone conversation that would be split screened between the two actors. (This... also didn't end up happening in post, but we could dream, right?)

We had our idea: a man trapped over night in his office. He would slowly become more and more 'crazy' as the night went on and would unleash his inner child. This would all end with his douchebag boss coming in and being a douchebag to him culminating in the confetti popper being brought in somehow. We left Press'd and headed to my place to write the script. After an extremely quick writing session we finished our script and were ready to start shooting.

Shooting started at 2 PM in that day, 3 hours after the start time and we were optimistic. Our shoot had two locations, three actors and was relatively simple. My hubris got the best of me and I lauded on about how we would be eating dinner by 6 and be finished editing by 1. We'd be sleeping well that night. Of course, hubris is usually humbled viciously and we wrapped our shooting nearly by 9. Still quite good, a 7 hour shoot for a 7 page script, but nowhere near my original and outrageous prediction.

The shoot went so well due to the work of our terrific actors Sarah and Patrick, but especially of our lead actor AJ. He was always up for whatever we asked of him and he took the little time we had and threw out an amazing performance with it. He was the glue that held the short together and he rocked it.

We sat down for dinner at 10 PM at a small little bar near my place. Music trivia was happening that night. The waitress asked us if we wanted to play. We had to politely decline, we had work to do. We returned home, the footage had rendered and we were ready to kick its ass. The first cut happened at 11:30 PM and the final rendering of the finished project started at 4:30 AM. The editing went incredibly smoothly with me seated in the editing chair and Justin and AJ sitting behind me providing pointers, energy and support.

Justin took the USB stick with our footage into the jury at 9:30 AM on the 21st and we awaited eagerly for the showcase the following Saturday. At the showcase they said they'd show ten short films of the 36 entries. I was there as the tenth short played and we weren't in it. You can't get too disappointed by something like that, the filming and editing experience itself are what's worth it in the end. These thoughts were cut short as, a surprise to everyone, an 11th film was shown. Overtime by 201 Guerrillas. We got some good laughs at the gags in the short and I survived the showing without sinking too much into my chair. I don't do too well at showcases of our work.

Awards were given out after the showcase and we walked away with three awards. Best Actor, Best Editing and Best Sound Design. It was a huge honour and I wish Justin and AJ were there with me. I didn't do too well at an acceptance speech and I know they would've said something great. Maybe something along the lines of Sam Jackson's monologue in Coach Carter. I've given AJ his trophy for Best Actor and Justin took the Best Sound Design trophy for himself. It was an awesome experience working with two people I've never had the chance to work with before. I hope you like Overtime when you see it and I hope you like whatever 201 Guerrilla's work is in next year's 24one Film Festival even more.

Sunday School - Block 2 and 3 Wrap Up

The first half of September has been a month of hitting the grindstone with our webseries Sunday School. We shot over 6 days and have passed the halfway point in the project. We have six days scheduled in October, and here's hoping the weather cooperates. If you don't know what Sunday School is about, check out its page here.

During our six days we saw the first sign of activity from the lemonade stand that acts as the catalyst for the majority of the story within the six episode series.We also saw the first glimpse of the 'rival juice stand', you can find their picture below. The biggest chunk we filmed was the wrapping of our climax. A huge confrontation between the two drink stands, leaving one as the victor and the other as the unanimous loser.

What's up for the rest of September? This Saturday, the 20th, we'll be taking part in the 24/One Film Festival in Edmonton. We'll be doing this alongside Guerrilla Motion Pictures, co-producers of Sunday School. At the end of the month we'll be filming an EP release for a local band and then starting in October we're back to Sunday School.

Until next time.

Edmonton Fringe 2014 - Gumshoe

Hey everybody, our show in the Edmonton Fringe goes up in less than a week so the excitement is starting to get to me. (Read: nerves.) In an attempt to wrangle in these feelings I figured I should do a write up on this bizarre comedy show we have coming up.

Gumshoe is described simply as a meta murder mystery. It's predominantly a two person show, with a bit of a dabbling from a third player. Gumshoe follows the story of Jacob, a theatre goer who, after getting annoyed that the lead actor doesn't know his lines, shouts various insults and disdain towards the show. The heckling all gets to the lead actor's head and he walks off stage. Of course, because this is theatre, the show must go on. The only remaining actress on stage-- Morgan, playing Lily-- drags Jacob on stage and makes him fill in the role of leading man. Through this Jacob struggles to keep the show afloat and make it work.

It's a comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously and all stemmed from a strange idea I had during our rehearsals for last year's Fringe show It's Complicated. In the middle of a rehearsal I started calling out some notes to Patrick. Right after I finished my note I immediately asked how an actor would deal with someone shouting in from the audience and "directing" them. This quickly changed over to what would happen if this audience member went on stage and began to try and run the play himself. How much control would an audience member have over the play physically? Metaphysically? 

The last bit is touched on briefly in Gumshoe-- indirectly anyway. My hope was to put Jacob, our protagonist, into a situation on stage and make the play itself his antagonist. The fictional play was a murder mystery and he's the one who has to solve it. However the play doesn't slow down for him and he has to ride along with it while trying to piece the whole damn thing together. It was a blast of a play to write because I was able to do things on stage that I couldn't do in film: breaking the fourth wall, stepping right into the audience and dragging them back on stage for the rest of the show. Certain pieces helped bring the puzzle together completely and I can't wait to see how they all come together on stage. Especially because of how wonderfully Patrick and Sarah are handling being in charge of these puzzle pieces.

If a comedic meta murder mystery stands out to you and you'll be in the Edmonton area during Fringe you should come check out the show. We run 6 dates that I'll post below between August 14th and August 24th at Venue #9 - Telus, 10437 83rd Avenue. The show is 50 minutes long and costs $12.50 for adults and $7.00 for seniors and students. Say hi to me too if you want. I'll be the one pacing around outside the venue in the midst of a panic attack.

-Justin

Gumshoe

Venue #9 - Telus, 10437 83rd Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta

August 14th @ 8:00 PM
August 16th @ 12:00 PM
August 17th @ 10:00 PM
August 20th @ 2:15 PM
August 22nd @ 4:30 PM
August 24th @ 6:00 PM

BUY TICKETS HERE

Turning of Time - Poster Release

Hey everybody, Justin here with a few small updates on the state of The Turning of Time. First off, and the most exciting bit of news, Sam has begun his editing on the series. He's all finished up the first cut for Episode 1 and is making his way through Episode 2. There's still a lot of work leading up towards our première in September. We need to run around and film a chunk of establishing shots, record some voice over, ADR and more for each episode, but this is all a walk in the park in comparison to our seven months of filming.

Sam has also designed a wonderful poster for The Turning of Time. Featuring all eleven cast members in their glory, it can be found here:

Currently our tentative release date for Episode 1 is Sunday September 21st. What better way to ring in Autumn than with an over dramatic soap opera comedy? The season was made for this. Of course, this is all subject to change, but we'll be throwing up updates here as we go. Expect a lot of previews coming out closer to release.

For the time being I'm going to be nose deep in the Edmonton Fringe Festival for our performance of Gumshoe. In early September we're diving back into and hopefully wrapping Sunday School. Our video diary series Valiant is also going steady. There will be more exciting things to come, but for the time being this is what's on 201 Pictures' plate.

Sunday School - Block 1 Wrap Up

This last weekend we finished up the first block of shooting for our newest webseries Sunday School. Sunday School follows the story of four friends who are all hitting dead ends in their young adult life. Instead of growing up they all join in together and make a lemonade stand business. Business falters until Mitchell, the "idea man", comes up with a way to get them to the top. Unfortunately at the top there's competition and the group doesn't deal too well with competition.

Sunday School is a 6 episode comedy series that is being released in January 2015. We're really excited for this one and can't wait for the next eight scheduled days of shooting. Here are a bunch of promo pictures and a video diary all from our first block.

Turning of Time - 187 Down, 0 to Go

Holy hell. It's all done. 

Today we wrapped up the last eleven scenes of The Turning of Time. The weather cooperated, then mosquitoes were plentiful and the tears were... well, nobody cried in public but I'm sure when everyone got home at least one of us bawled for a good half hour. I'm not speaking from experience. Stop looking at me. Go to the next paragraph and forget I even brought this up.

Next for Turning of Time? Sam and I are sitting down and beginning the editing. We're damn excited for it. This is the stage where we get to enjoy our previous six months of work come together. It still hasn't hit me fully that we're done this. Joe and I started writing this series back in June 2013. Now, just over a year later we're able to say that the first season is finished. Nineteen days of shooting, eleven main actors and one hundred and eighty seven scenes later... the madness of Turning of Time is done-- for now.

It's hard to pinpoint exactly one character as the 'lead' in The Turning of Time, as all story lines intertwine like some sort of convoluted spider web. But Andrew Naider has the most scenes out of all the actors, so that makes him the winner. What does he win? He wins a life, as his actor put, that is like living a perpetual nightmare. He has no identity and constantly tries to shape himself out as whoever gives him the most attention. Andrew is played by Patrick Maloney and Patrick brought a certain ugliness to Andrew that was almost unimaginable. How this ugliness came to be is a bit of a surprise that will come out later when the series premières, but it's... something else.

Next up on our wrap list is Damien Roland. Damien is a super successful business magnate who currently owns about 95% of North America. This is a true fact, take my word for it and don't look it up. In Turning of Time land Damien always has a target on his back due to his millions upon millions of riches. He's currently married to Abigail (his twelfth marriage) and loves his daughter Emily almost as much as he loves his money. Almost. Damien is played by James Wilkinson. James looks damn good in a suit-- this is probably the thing that made him most like Damien to me. Also the fact that I secretly believe James owns 95% of North America. Lizard people are real, the illuminati... WAKE UP SHEEPLE.

The last character to wrap, and the last scene we shot, featured the Doctor. He doesn't have a name. When people ask for it he just assures them that he knows what he's doing. No one is exactly sure if he has any medical training, but he's always there to help when somebody gets sick or falls into a coma. The Doctor is played by Mitchell Bosecke and he brought a certain zaniness to the character that made Joe and I write an additional scene with him. This craziness works because the Doctor is a very weird character. His wrap picture sums him up perfectly.

What's next beyond the editing of The Turning of Time? There's a few more shooting dates for Valiant before we wrap that project. On Tuesday we're diving into our next series Sunday School. That's starting shooting this month. See you all when that starts updating!

Turning of Time - 176 Down, 11 to Go

After our eighteenth day of filming I am able to count how many scenes are left to go on two hands. (I have a bizarre pinky-like growth on my right hand, don't ask.) We have one day left to go and, if weather is kind, we will hopefully be wrapped on July 6th. 

That means that we need to start editing this monstrosity. That also means we'll be getting some actual footage previews coming your way. We are still on track to our September 21st première and what better way to celebrate the start of Fall with a soap opera parody?

Here is the promo picture from today's shoot!

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During our eighteenth day we wrapped Abigail Roland. Abigail Roland is a black widow, the only two things she cares about in life are herself and money. Throughout the series Abigail aligns herself with whoever gives her the best chance of succeeding in her goal and she doesn't care who she hurts in the process. She also has an evil maniacal laugh to die. Abigail is played by Sarah Ormandy. Sarah ripped Abigail off the page perfectly and, thanks to her countless supplies of weird outfits, made Abigail's ever changing wardrobe a huge aspect of her character. She also told me Abigail was just like her-- I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing, but luckily nobody on set mysteriously slipped into a coma.

Hopefully our next update is the wrap update.

Turning of Time - 163 Down, 24 to Go

We had two days of filming this week for The Turning of Time. One of them was rained out, which was unfortunate but when you're at the whim of Alberta weather you sometimes need to sit back and let it do its thing. The other day was a great day of shooting which saw yet another character wrapped. We're getting to the point of the shoot that every shooting day ends with another actor leaving the production and it's always bitter sweet. It's nice to be moving along with the project and knocking on the door of the final shot, but it sucks to say goodbye to these fantastic actors and their characters. Maybe we'll see them again if we're crazy enough to do a second season.

Today's shoot involved filming a part of the climax of the whole series. I'm not going to go into too much detail about what it contains, but know that it involves a heated exchange on a bridge. Also that somehow during filming today one of our donut props went over the side and we mournfully watched it float away. So that's what I'm sharing so far: the end involves a bridge and donuts-- hopefully that's enough to pique your interest.

Here's our promo picture from today:

Christopher scolds Andrew for his accusations towards Abigail.

Christopher scolds Andrew for his accusations towards Abigail.

Today we said goodbye to Christopher King. Since his youth Christopher has always been attempting to get out of the shadow of his evil twin brother. When he thought he was free of it his brother, Raymond, clawed his way back to him. Now he is forced to take some drastic actions that will come back to bite him and a few other characters in The Turning of Time in the process. Christopher is portrayed by Daniel Stilwell and he's absolutely wonderful. Shoot days with Dan are some of my favourites and I've loved working with him ever since our first project together, Til Death Do Us Part. In this series Dan had the challenge of playing more than one character, sometimes at once, and he made it look easy. I know I had a hard enough time just playing Marcus.

If all goes well and Alberta weather cooperates we'll have the Turning of Time wrapped in two more days. Until next time!

Turning of Time - 158 Down, 29 to Go

We're getting close. After our latest two days of filming we've gotten 85% through the series. Four more filming days are planned and, if all goes well, the fourth one will be the end of the shoot. Over these two days we also wrapped three of our lovable characters. Okay, one of them is a villain in the series, but they're like our children-- we love all of them equally.

Now let's talk a bit more in detail about our wrapped characters.

The first up is Joyce Nelson. Joyce is the oldest of the three Nelson sisters and is also the most manipulative of the three. While they were children she convinced one of her sisters, Janis, to push her other sister, Janine, into the Grand Canyon. She's only gotten better at it since then. Joyce is played by Taylor Cameron who is one of the cast members I've known since high school. After we graduated I moved away for school but, like a clock that turns time, this project brought us back together as colleagues. I am overjoyed I had the chance to work with her again because she brought such justice to the performance. With her it always seemed like the gears behind Joyce's head were turning.

Next up is Janis Nelson, the third and final Nelson sister (although, I shouldn't get ahead of myself.) Janis is the sister who is stuck in the middle between the blood feud of her sisters. To make matters worse, the love of her life loves both her AND her sister. We'll get to him in a second though. Janis is portrayed by Beth Kuban. When I had my first sit down meeting with Beth I told her about the three levels of characters in Turning of Time. One level was the good, one level was the bad and the final level was the stupid. Janis is one of the few good characters in the series. Beth succeeded phenomenally in bringing this out in her performance as Janis. It made all the unfortunate happenings to Janis even that much more unfortunate. She rounded out the Nelson sisters perfectly.

Our last wrapped character is Marcus Greene. Marcus is a very rich man due to his co-ownership of a jewel mine with Damien Roland. He is very quick to fall in love with anyone who shows him attention and is definitely not the brightest man around. He falls into the idiot level of our character pyramid. He swears that Joyce is the love of his life, although before that Janis was given this title. This was all simple until Janis returned from the 'dead' and now he finds himself equally in love with two women. Marcus is played by me, Justin Cauti, and there isn't much to say about myself beyond the fact that I'm an asshole.

Until next time!