Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

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Chad Peter
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Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Chad Peter » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:26 pm

I've gone to Australia for a 15 day adventure and come back with another "unscripted" road trip film. Tried this once before on a much, much smaller scale with "Colorado" (https://vimeo.com/192293704) - and for those of you that have watched that, well, it was easily a large departure from the likes of "Apocalypse, CA" or (insert any other movie I've made here). "Australia" is only kinda unscripted. It played out more like one big giant experiment in filmmaking, rather, starting with a simple plot line and taking it day by day.

The plot we set out to make, in its most basic form:

Alex proposes to his girlfriend on the way to the airport in Los Angeles. They're about to embark on a vacation to Australia together... but she says NO, and ditches him before the flight. Alex goes to Australia anyway...

Knowing that much, I first found an actor to play Alex - his name is Tommy O'Brien. Second, we set out a very general plan to get from point A (Melbourne) to point B (Perth) - a 2,123.7 mile journey. From there, we placed a number of casting calls in cities along the way, and ultimately cast out the movie where/when we could with people admittedly naive enough to join our insane adventure. Hannah Lehmann, an Australian actress local to Sydney, flew into Adelaide to join us for the latter half of the film shoot (Adelaide to Perth), and from there we were really able to craft a pretty solid two-character adventure (and not just another one-person drama, like "Colorado"). The end result will probably resemble something along the lines of the "Before Sunrise" films.

Each day went something like this:

Wake up relatively early (but never super early), get coffee, hit the road, film wherever and whatever we needed to film, usually until midnight, actors would sleep and then I'd stay up until 3am writing scenes for the following day. Compounded over two weeks straight, this was all pretty exhausting and some nights I just couldn't keep my eyes open to write even a word. Most of the intense scenes ended up with a script before attempting to film, but there were more than a handful that the actors simply had to figure out on their own, usually while I was racing against the sun, trying to get the shot before losing all light (and hope, with it). Filming on the road was the easiest - usually because the scenes there were transitional, whereas when we'd hit a major city or port, the plot would have to thicken, and scene complexity would follow. Continuity, for a good chunk, was maintained by the actors, because my brain simply couldn't remember everything we'd filmed - what lines were spoke, etc - by the end of our shoot. In one case, the actors finished reading a scene I'd just written, and they looked at me to say, "Chad, it's great, but sixty-percent of this dialogue was in our scene three days ago." That's how exhausted we were by the end. Despite that, I'm still confident we somehow pulled it off, with any repetitive scenes! hah...

The film *should* end up being feature length when it's all done. We've still got the entire Los Angeles stuff at the beginning of the film to take care of, and I'm not quite sure when that'll happen, but hopefully soon, before we get too far removed from it.

A couple musings, from the shoot...

-- People are incredibly generous in South Australia. Not a single person told us we couldn't film somewhere, if asked, and we only caught a "no" here and there when we were asking people if they'd like to be in our movie.

-- I was the only crew member, outside of the cast members, shooting on 8K with a Red Epic-W camera (helium sensor). I had three Leica-R mount lenses to work with; a 19mm, a 35mm and a 50mm. Sound was boomed (on locked-off tripod shots) or microphones were clamped in place around the scene. I was working with two shotgun microphones; a Schoeps CMIT-5U and a Sennheiser 416. Had I not trusted my instinct to rent the Sennheiser 416, I'm not sure we could have filmed MOST of the scenes we filmed. I rented the 416 as a potential backup, but quickly learned I needed a second source in larger scenes (or even in the car scenes, when we had two mics clamped, one for each actor). Perhaps Lav mics would have been better, but I am unfamiliar with them and didn't want to deal with the excess bullshit that comes with it (sending, receiving signals and all the additional battery power that we'd have needed). On the locked-off shots I'll have to paint myself out of most of them - sometimes I'd be up-close, booming the actors from within the shot - a technique we used a whole helluva lot on House of Cards.

-- Any number of things could have stopped production at ANY point along the way and we'd have been screwed. Among those, primary would have been equipment problems (things not working, etc), theft (none, thankfully), international customs (travelled with a Carnet for my gear (a passport for equipment) - which cost like $500), car rental could have exploded, actors could have bailed, we could have died, etc, etc, etc. None of that happened. Well, mostly. We did have a battery charger (for the camera) die on us mid-way thru the Nullarbor... and I thought we were fucked for a minute, until I realized the camera itself will charge the batteries (Redvolt XL) when powered-off and plugged-in.

-- Some highlights along the way: Adelaide is an awesome city. Would love to return. Quorn is also awesome. The Nullarbor, which is basically nothing but desert and dead kangaroos, still had cell reception and 3G for the vast majority of the trip. Not until we reached Western Australia did we start to have "no service" on our cell phones. Perth was great, too, but in it's own unique way. As desolate as some of the trip was, honestly it's not much different than a drive through the American southwest, except that the sights were more beautiful and, yes, the population is significantly smaller. What amazed me most is just how EMPTY the areas surrounding Perth are. Perth is a large city, but it is surrounded by absolutely fuck all.

More soon.

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Mike
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Mike » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:30 am

This is brilliant.
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Lance » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:45 am

Sounds fucking awesome, glad everything worked out for it.

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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Lank » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:51 am

Amazing!
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Faldor » Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:31 am

That sounds crazy. Why don't you like sleep?! I spent sometime in both Melbourne and Perth in 2010. Melbourne is an amazing place and Perth is the most remote city on the planet. I remember flying in and getting closer and closer and still only seeing desert.

How did you get on with storing the footage? I'm currently shooting a conference in Spain and a chunk of my time is just taken up by transferring stuff from SD cards. Have you got a raid of drives in your backpack??

My audio set up has been comprised of running a lapel mic into a Zoom H1, I'm not sure how that holds up for broadcast specs and what not but you could probably use the same technique with better equipment by throwing money at it.

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Adam Bertocci
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Adam Bertocci » Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:25 pm

Had you been to these places in Australia before? I mean, did you have ideas of the visuals and how it was all gonna look on the roads and such before you went, or was the idea to be surprised by the visuals and just find places to shoot as you went?

As for people being nice on the road - you know, it's my (limited) experience that people in more remote areas are friendlier about filmmakers, because they think it's neat, whereas I'm told LA it's so hard to film anywhere 'cause they're sick of it and know they can charge. :p In LA you're another asshole, on the road in who-knows-where you're something exciting!

Anyway, all sounds good, but good luck topping the classic Australian road trip movie, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" :lol: I weep nightly that I will never come up with a better line than "That's just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock."

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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Chad Peter » Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:47 pm

Faldor wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:31 am
That sounds crazy. Why don't you like sleep?!
I don't. I eat babies.
Faldor wrote:
Wed Sep 06, 2017 2:31 am
How did you get on with storing the footage? I'm currently shooting a conference in Spain and a chunk of my time is just taken up by transferring stuff from SD cards. Have you got a raid of drives in your backpack??
Yeaaaaaaah. Storing footage. Did I mention that I had to film without the ability to keep a backup of the footage? No? Yeah, so that was a thing. 15 terabytes... THAT was the final tally for how much space the raw footage took up. It equated to 6 wallet-sized harddrives, stuffed into a pistol sized Pelican case (one that raises eyebrows in the middle of an airport). Had one of these drives died, well... *knocks on wood*. The movie's backed-up now. Only took a week to copy everything.

*clears throat*

Sweet baby Jesus, don't fail me now.
Adam Bertocci wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:25 pm
Had you been to these places in Australia before? I mean, did you have ideas of the visuals and how it was all gonna look on the roads and such before you went, or was the idea to be surprised by the visuals and just find places to shoot as you went?
I found probably two locations from pictures on instagram beforehand, and familiarized myself with some general areas. The biggest "scouting" that had been done prior to the trip was done via what was available on AirBnb. I absolutely focused my energy on finding rentable places that didn't mind us filming AND that looked awesome. Other than that, none of us - not even the Australian - had been anywhere along this trip before doing it ourselves. I'm glad, because it meant we all enjoyed it a little bit more, seeing something for the first time. It shows on camera, I think. Especially when you're in the middle of fucking nowhere (the desert), you turn down a random dirt road, drive a mile until you've hit a cliff that drops 100m into the OCEAN, and suddenly you're in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, accompanied by 90 southern white humpback whales in crystal blue water (which happened to us). All on a whim. Not sure you can even plan for something like that.
Adam Bertocci wrote:
Thu Sep 07, 2017 11:25 pm
As for people being nice on the road - you know, it's my (limited) experience that people in more remote areas are friendlier about filmmakers, because they think it's neat, whereas I'm told LA it's so hard to film anywhere 'cause they're sick of it and know they can charge. :p In LA you're another asshole, on the road in who-knows-where you're something exciting!
Facts.

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Mike
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Mike » Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:59 pm

Chad Peter wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:47 pm
Yeaaaaaaah. Storing footage. Did I mention that I had to film without the ability to keep a backup of the footage? No? Yeah, so that was a thing. 15 terabytes... THAT was the final tally for how much space the raw footage took up. It equated to 6 wallet-sized harddrives, stuffed into a pistol sized Pelican case (one that raises eyebrows in the middle of an airport). Had one of these drives died, well... *knocks on wood*. The movie's backed-up now. Only took a week to copy everything.
Approx (VERY approx) how many hours of shooting does that represent?
"Np2k has ruined my life." - Lance

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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Ornsack » Sat Sep 09, 2017 11:13 pm

I'm really looking forward to seeing the results of this!

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Chad Peter
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Chad Peter » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:08 am

Mike wrote:
Sat Sep 09, 2017 7:59 pm
Chad Peter wrote:
Fri Sep 08, 2017 6:47 pm
Yeaaaaaaah. Storing footage. Did I mention that I had to film without the ability to keep a backup of the footage? No? Yeah, so that was a thing. 15 terabytes... THAT was the final tally for how much space the raw footage took up. It equated to 6 wallet-sized harddrives, stuffed into a pistol sized Pelican case (one that raises eyebrows in the middle of an airport). Had one of these drives died, well... *knocks on wood*. The movie's backed-up now. Only took a week to copy everything.
Approx (VERY approx) how many hours of shooting does that represent?
About 108 minutes per terabyte, or... 1620 minutes... 27 hours total footage. Figuring the movie will be 90 minutes... ish... that's an 18:1 shooting ratio! lol, not bad. Also, fuck.

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Chad Peter
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Chad Peter » Fri Oct 27, 2017 11:49 am


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Faldor
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Faldor » Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:01 am

Awesome!

Remember when setting up an IMDB page was a massive effort and getting an IMDB page meant you were treated as a god?

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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Mike » Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:46 am

Faldor wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:01 am
...getting an IMDB page meant you were treated as a god?
...You...you...mean that's n-n-not true? :(
"Np2k has ruined my life." - Lance

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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Faldor » Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:48 pm

Mike wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:46 am
...You...you...mean that's n-n-not true? :(
Only if you have a credit for Apocalypse CA ;)

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Adam Bertocci
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Adam Bertocci » Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:31 pm

Remember when setting up an IMDB page was a massive effort and getting an IMDB page meant you were treated as a god?
I used to be sort of the IMDB Fairy for student film at Northwestern, tracking down which films had gotten into fests and getting them listings and adding everyone's name. For years I did not reveal my identity, but people were so happy that it was happening, and years after we all graduated I unveiled myself to great acclaim.

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Mike
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Mike » Sat Oct 28, 2017 9:13 pm

Adam Bertocci wrote:
Sat Oct 28, 2017 6:31 pm
Remember when setting up an IMDB page was a massive effort and getting an IMDB page meant you were treated as a god?
I used to be sort of the IMDB Fairy for student film at Northwestern, tracking down which films had gotten into fests and getting them listings and adding everyone's name. For years I did not reveal my identity, but people were so happy that it was happening, and years after we all graduated I unveiled myself to great acclaim.
You, Sir, have achieved the power of a low-flying God. May good karma reward you.
"Np2k has ruined my life." - Lance

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Chad Peter
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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Chad Peter » Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:56 pm

hahaha... that's hilarious, Adam.

Ah yes, the days of imdb being a pain in the ass to get things posted on are (mostly) over. Though it took some serious tinkering to get the aussie movie posted well before completion. Black Flower is also up there, somewhere.

Speaking of Apocalypse, CA... a few copies were handed out last night at our Halloween party. bahaha...

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Re: Untitled Australian Roadtrip Movie

Post by Faldor » Sun Oct 29, 2017 3:38 pm

IMDB is actually located in Bristol, We probably should have arranged a visit for Chad when he was here.

I always think people who offer IMDB credits as a crowdfunding reward are playing with fire. knowing how often people would just not get listed or misspelt.

Looking it up, I was pleasantly surprised to see Apocalypse, CA has an IMDB rating of 7/10. Don't get me wrong, I love the movie. I just didn't expect anyone else too!
Chad Peter wrote:
Sun Oct 29, 2017 1:56 pm
Black Flower is also up there, somewhere.
What's happening with Black Flower?

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