|Awe, yes! This is the interesting part!
This is how it works, we are going to create this page in two sections - Shooting and Post-Production. The Shooting for the film is completed so that section will tell where and how the shooting for the movie was done. We are already into the Post-Production phase of the movie and as we complete effects shots we will put scene shots and stills onto this page with descriptions of how the different shots were accomplished. Information on how we distribute the film, when it is completed, may also be included; we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Keep in mind as you are browsing this page, that this movie is being made with very little money and very little access to resources (like a good hardware store). The principle shoot was done while living in Japan and so it was difficult to, say, buy a 200 square foot piece of green cloth to make a tent. Well, here we go!
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The Post Production Phase (updated August 7, 2002)
The Shooting Phase
A First Try
The shooting of Corporal Faith occurred under some interesting circumstances. Originally a script was drawn up for a close to feature length production. It dealt with lots of issues surrounding Christianity and war. The story was inspired by various Vietnam veterans who have told of how traumatic it was to fight the physical and spiritual battle as enlisted military. Since we had lots of bamboo forest at our disposal in Japan, among other useful locations, it was decided that this would be a good project to undertake. The first round of location shooting didnt go so well. First, despite every best effort, a good cast was nonexistent and we got so desperate as to cast ourselves in two of the roles (naturally this didnt work too well since this left no one to man the equipment most of the time). Also we started off in the dead of summer when the bamboo forest were filled with humidity so thick you can just about see it hanging in the air and hoards of the most vicious mosquitoes known to man. These pests werent at all deterred by the presents of insect repellant and would attack any animate or inanimate object that fancied them, including the camera. They often had to be shooed away just to get a clear shot!
It was rather depressing to admit that not much of the footage was usable. But as always, some gained experience and more time to think things over helped immensely. To begin with the script was cleared of all the excess material that might distract from the key points. It was really tightened up to a straightforward story that packed a good punch. Some new scenes were also added that spread out the out the story line over more locations to make the story more visually interesting and also limit the time spent trooping around in bamboo.
It was a good long while before we got started up again. The day jobs were keeping us busy so the project kept being pushed further back. Suddenly it turned out that our stint in Japan wasnt going to last much longer, so we really got a fire under us to finish of the film with a "Now or Never" attitude. It came as a real blessing that when we went out anew to cast the roles that we came across some very talented people who were willing to participate. Stephen Sikes was a friend who had seen some of our earlier work and was impressed enough to sign on. John had done some drama in community theater and had impressed us with his talent. He didnt know us from the wall but when we approached and asked him point-blank if he was interested, he excepted on a whim.
We were all fired up and ready to go. Things rolled along a lot smoother this time. Not that we didnt have a few fresh problems. We shot later in autumn time, which kept temperatures lower and spirits higher but also put us in typhoon season, praying for clear weather days to work with. Also just as things were wrapping up, September 11th struck and security became a much bigger issue in the publics mind. This complicated things since we were trying to march around with M16s. It put us on a real tightrope, trying to decide (in the interest of finishing the production in a timely manner) when to get all sorts of official permission or when to just choose a farther flung location where we could film in "stealth mode".
For locations we started out by renting a club that had been closed down. It was located next to a boat dock and worked really well for setting up a variety of scenes. One funny incident occurred there when we couldnt get a hold of an actor who had agreed to play a bit part in the nightclub scene. Nobody wanted to postpone since we already had everything set up. In the true gorilla indie style, we bailed into a van and went roaming the streets until we found a guy having a smoke outside of a building. He thought we were insane but after a lot of arm-twisting he consented to riding out to the location and played the part. Not only that but he played it incredibly well!
Rain put us back a few days but finally we had a clear day when everyone was free to brave the bamboo forest. We set off early in the morning and the actors got suited up in the privacy of some bushes. Everything went just fine this time. While it may not be apparent in the film, this whole location was on a steep slope so running out of energy was about the only difficulty. We countered this problem with a good stash of ice cold sodas and a bag of nacho chips with dip.
After the forest there were a few various shots to be captured with our actors in front of blue screens for compositing into special effects scenes. Bob Keffer, who was originally slated for another scene filled in as the Captain giving Jeremiah his new orders. Also there was shoot involved the outside of the club that Hendrix comes stumbling out of. This was shot between some old refer units. We had just gotten underway when a policeman showed up and wanted to know what was going on. We hurriedly explained and he let us get on with it. Apparently even refer units were being patrolled. Bummer.
This last phase of the shooting called for a location in deep south Alabama. We were going to be traveling through Arkansas on our way back from Japan so we thought we would recruit some talent from a local college and wrap up the shoot. Well that simply didnt work out in the timetable we had, so the chance was lost to film "Alabama" in any part of the South. We picked up the shoot at another location that is even more far-flung than Japan! Tel Aviv, Israel stood in for the deep South. This sounds pretty insane but we were wondering how to finish up this last shoot when it occurred to us that we only needed a neighborhood street and interior of a house. Well, most neighborhoods around the world look fairly similar, plus or minus a palm tree or two, so we cast two women, Jennifer Ferguson and Lori Loyd as Jeremiahs girlfriend and mother and went to work. Over the course of a couple days we finished off those shoots and the "film was in the can."
Whew! This had turned into a real international conglomeration and all the footage is beautiful. Onward to post-production
The Post-Production Phase
As you can see from the tale of the shooting of this film, it wasn't shot in the perfect conditions and many changes needed to be made in order to fill it out. Some scenes that are supposed to take place on a military base in Vietnam were shot in a residential area in Japan with houses in the background. Some scenes had modern cars lurking in the corner of the shot. Some scenes were shot on a clear day in broad daylight and have to be turned into a cloudy sunset. All of that is the work of the post-production phase. The basic editing is the easiest part, the scary part comes when helicopters, tents, boats and explosions have to be added. That's what we're currently working on.
It would probably help to give you some idea of the equipment that is being used to create the special effects for this movie. The incoming video is MiniDV format which is fairly compressed and can be edited on most computers. All of the editing and special effects are being created on a single PC (dual-Celeron 400, 524 mg ram, 100gig hd, computer running Windows 2000). If you are familiar with computers, you'll know that this is not exactly a top of the line machine, especially in the processor department. But hardware only dictates the speed, software dictates what can be done. For software I'm using Adobe Premiere 6 for editing, After Effects 5 Production Bundle for compositing, Adobe PhotoshopLE for editing images, and Newtek Lightwave 6.5 for 3d effects.
The idea here is to give you a look at how some of these shots are pulled off. You won't see all of them, that would give away too much. But I'll work on posting quite a few as things progress.
The first installment in the making of Corporal Faith is here! This is the tale of an effect... a helicopter effect! Click below to check it out!
Here is the second making piece! This one also has something to do with a helicopter. This time it's a simpler effect but one that takes quite a bit of work to pull off. This is the process of re-coloring and stabilizing a helicopter. Click below to see how it's done!
Ta-Da!! Here is the third installment! This section describes the creation of cgi buildings for a shot in Corporal Faith. The final clip has already been shown to some unsuspecting souls and they couldn't guess what was changed! Click below to read all about the making of "Down Range"!