Among Them was spawned while Evalena and I were driving back from one of her auditions in NYC. We were talking about how long it was taking to finish "Serena" and submit it for distribution since we cared about it so much. We wanted it to be perfect. It was "our baby." So we got into talking a bout making a movie as fast as we could to try to sell as quick as possible since we're perpetually broke. We had been toying with the idea of shooting a blitz style movie for a while and decided a grindhouse or horror film would be well suited for that kind of speed. Once we started talking concepts it evolved from exploitation to more of supernatural thriller.
I came up with a premise and Evalena wrote a 98 page script in 2 days.
Usually this kind of speed writing doesn't turn up very high quality story telling but when I read it I was blown away. The script was actually quite good. I added a couple lines and some feedback about the crime aspects and we were done.
The wonderful thing about this film is that we had worked with so many talented actors by this point we had no need to do any casting calls. Speed speed speed
We also wrote it centrally based around one primary
Location so we had minimal location scouting to do.
Our two time lead actor, Jonathan Thomson actually did the scouting for us since he was more familiar and lived closer to our shooting town, Hampton NH. He showed us around to the spots he found and we secured a motel to shoot in by showing the owners our trailer for Serena with my handy iphone. They were very kind and enthusiastic and provided us with a reduced rental rate.
We scheduled a full week of shooting for "winter break" or the time after Christmas through new years that most people have off from work.
The motel was great for shooting in that it also served as a placed to put up our cast and crew. It also posed a new challenge of set dressing when the place was full of equipment and the personal belongings of 4 people. We were fortunate to have Tony Colapietro and his girlfriend Ania on board that week and they pitched in and rented their own room.
So we organized out scenes by room, cleared the room and shot every scene based in the room. There were more night scenes than day so we taped black garbage bags to the windows to block out the day light.
Things were going along pretty swimmingly, we fell into a groove and we able knock out entire scenes from setup to breakdown in half hour increments at one point. Ania meanwhile worked her magic prepping us some amazing meals so we could eat and get right back to work.
Our lighting equipment was minimal, as I usually like it. We had our new Arri 1k, provided to us generously by Evalena's father, and an Arri 350 and a 4 tube Kino with daylight and tungsten.
On new years eve we suffered a catastrophic equipment failure while shooting a scene on the beach. A small motor in the lens adapter spuntered to its death rendering the adapter useless.
Fortunately we had a spare EX1 with a Letus 35 lens adapter.
Unfortunately Tony, the owner of said adapter was going to be away for the night.
Fortunately we had a plan to give the battery a good charge and see if that would bring it back to life.
Unfortunately, it didn't.
Fortunately we ha a friend who owned an EX1.
Unfortunately, he sold it.
Fortunately we could order replacement parts from the manufacturer.
Unfortunately they were in Canada and it wouldn't ship until after we left week rental at the motel.
Fortunately, if we could locate a toy store we may be able to find a small motor that could power the adapter.
Unfortunately it was new years eve.
So in our sleep deprived desperation we devised a plan to get to the nearest sex shop and pick up the smallest vibrator they had. We got one after some considerable struggle getting money out of the bank and brought it back to the hotel and sawed it open with a steak knife. We tried to attach the motor to the adapter only to realize that the motor would not properly vibrate the adapter and we had gone competely bat shit crazy. The night was a bust.
Happy New Year.
It was actually a much needed night off an we got back to work the next day.
When we got our replacement parts in the mail I spent a full day trying to repair the adapter. The new parts did not fix the problem an only left the adapter in worse condition since disassembling it proved to be hazardous to its delicate parts.
(tech jargon coming up)
In another fit of desperation I pulled out my old Letus prototype adapter and retrofitted my Brevis ground glass to fit in the vibrating holder. The old Letus glass was garbage so I couldn't use that. The motor on the old Letus was also dead so I put a new motor in it and I had an oscillating adapter again. Then the trick was to get it to fit onto the end of the camera. I glued an old step up ring to distance the adapter from the Brevis flip module since the adapters housing was just slightly to big to fit in there. The adapter ring was just the right size and I could screw it in with the screw mounts.
Franken Adapter was born.
We actually got to shoot some scenes on Franken Adapter and it worked pretty well until we had to shoot outside again. The freezing cold is not good for those little motors.
We have since gotten a real replacement for the adapter and got to shoot more exteriors in the blizzard. Evalena secured an old mini golf course for a scene and we shot a shootout there in what must have been 3 feet of snow and bitter cold. Never the less its always fun to play with prop guns outside and the weather added a lot to the scene. (The local Police were very kind and cooperative and well informed of what we doing)
Second feature, second car impounded
The Picture car we are using is my brother's 93 Nissan Sentra. We had borrowed it for about a month to use it as our two main characters getaway car. My brother calls me up and says he needs to have his car back to get him down to CT for a weekend we are planning to shoot on. So we determine it would be best to lend him our car since we need his to be in the picture. Evalena and I drive up to Vermont with both cars so we can drop ours off and come back in his. I get pulled over driving the Sentra and receive two tickets for an expired registration and no expired insurance. The car was insured, I just did not have the proof of insurance on me but the registration was indeed expired. They towed the car away, not 1 mile from our destination. Luckily my brother was able to pick up the car the next day, but we had to return home without it, making the trip pointless. And we later canceled the shooting week we needed the car for anyway, making the whole thing quite pointless.
HELL WEEK 2: Back to the hotel
We've successfully completed hell week 2 which started with some basement scenes at our co-producers home. It was a bloody mess in the best way possible. The only kink being that we shot until 3am and Evalena had to get up at 5am to go to work (as did everyone else) on Are We There Yet? A TBS sitcom. We got home and got an hour or sleep in a blink of an eye and headed out for a 2 hour drive down to Stamford. Ev slept in the car on the way there and I slept in the car after we arrived.
After finishing the tv show we went home and packed up all of our props and equipment into two cars and drove up to Boxford, MA where we crashed with JT (Jonathan Thomson) to head to the motel early the next day. This week we had the pleasure of working with additional supporting cast members Michael And Sarah Reed (aka Sarah Nicklin) and wrapped up with Scott Hand and Bobby Kenny. Everyone was a blast to work with, Sarah wrote a nice post about her experience on set:
Read Sarah Nicklin's post here
May 4 1974 (2011)
Had a lovely day in downtown Hartford complete with prop guns, ski masks and a getaway car shooting a heist getaway scene outside of a bank. Our Police detail was very friendly and interested in what we're doing. It was the first day shooting with the anamorphic adapter (on a movie) and I am very happy with the results. It only hindered one shot that would have involved a very large rack focus, but it wasn't really necessary. We took it off to get two shots, one with a macro lens and one on the zoom lens. Depicted below is Jonathan, putting on his kevlar vest, a "leftovers" prop from Serena. And in the background is John Mosetich, the star of our very own "McClint" goofing off.
After wards we went over to the cemetery where we shot the second big scene of the day and wrapped our principle actor, Jonathan Thomson. We brought the above pictures grave stone created by prop fabricator and actor Nicholas Apostilides. This picture was actually taken before the final layer of joint compound and paint job were added.
We currently only have 3 scenes left to shoot and a bunch of ADR and post of course.
Post has begun at the Ramada Inn in Mystic, CT. Evalena and I have moved into the hotel for the month of June as she has been cast as the role of Tori in the movie adaptation of Steve Niles' REMAINS.
I am about 90% done with a rough cut.
Sept 13 - Rough cut completed
November 15th 2011
When I need a break from editing I do some color correction. Here's a sample of the look we'll be going for in AMONG THEM.
I picked out a random movie from the internet that had a decent cinematic look and tried to match the look of it with a couple shot of Among Them. Not a very scientific test but it was a good exercise. I had to add a substantial amount of grain, make the color temperature a lot cooler and increase contrast and make sure the highlights were a neutral white.
March 4th, 2013.
More color work in between final cut work with Evalena. I stumbled upon a color curve that I really think helps with the film look and filmic skin tones. This coupled with my expanded tonal range effect really helps the look of the picture lean away from digital. Take a look below:
May 27th, 2015
We've been able to put some work into finalizing the cut, adding sound design, recording and editing hours of ADR sessions and adding vfx but we were also sidetracked with reworking Serena and The RATTS to get it ready for distribution. It's been a couple years since I last updated this page and its remarkable how fast the time passes.
Now the final steps are to finalize the ADR and put any final tweaks into the cut and then send it off for the score and sound mix.
More to come...