Loop Preproduction


PREPRODUCTION

(sometimes referred to as Preparing for War)

The requirements of the script were, of course, that it would be shootable on a shoestring budget. The story structure was completed over a single weekend in early May, but it took many early mornings at Satellite Coffee and the Flying Star Cafe over the next few weeks to rewrite and finesse the story flow.

The Flying Star Restaurant, Albuquerque NM

Because the story deals with a time loop where events needed to wrap back around on itself, detailed storyboards would be required. Every shot was boarded out – some in rough stick figure form, others in more detail as needed. This translated to 115 pages of storyboards, with two boards to a page – 230 boards in toto.

Since the nature of the story required effects plates, double exposures with makeup changes, and generally close continuity between many portions of the short, we ended up building a scene-specific shooting order manifesto to keep track of everything we needed to shoot. These were arranged by day, with a scheduled ‘estimated time’ on every page, so that we could determine if we were ahead of or sorely behind on our shooting schedule.

Armed with a list of 230 shots and three-and-a-half days to shoot them all, we bravely ventured forward into..


LOCATION SCOUTING

(or, it pays to know people who know people)

As we wrapped up the shooting script, I began to start looking around for a shooting location. Spectacular as the geography is in New Mexico, it is also rugged – which translates into “Not Terribly Production Friendly”. Taking a crew into remote location, without access to water, power and emergency medical facilities should the need arise, was starting to look like a logistics nightmare.

Luckily, through a chance discussion with Ann Lerner, Film Liaison for the Albuquerque Film Office, I got introduced to Matt Geisel, manager of the Film Office in Rio Rancho, NM, who introduced me to Jack Eichorn of the High Desert Investment Corporation, who graciously allowed us to shoot on platted but undeveloped land on the Mariposa development just slightly north of Rio Rancho, NM – the same locations that productions like Breaking Bad and Avengers had previously used. This meant that we would have easy access on paved roads to the shoot location, as well as access to power and crew amenities (thank you Jack!)

Location scout still from shoot location


PRODUCTION DESIGN


My criteria sheet in the writing phase reads as follows–

“Ophelia: Smart, sexy, hot, kicks ass.
Gman: Ron Harris”

Ever since his over-the-top bad guy take in our last feature-length western, Ron is now my favorite bad guy, which is surprising because in person he is the nicest guy you will meet.

For Ophelia, however, I wrote the part with Christine as a reference, but since I was in Albuquerque and she was based in LA, I thought I would need to find someone more local. We tested a few different actresses, but because the role called for someone who could handle action-oriented material and still look good doing it, we inevitably drifted back to our “Asian Angelina Jolie”. After a couple of local auditions, I decided to just suck it up and ask Christine if she would please please please come make the short with me.. I As luck would have it, Christine’s schedule was open for a few weeks in July. SCORE!!

With Christine based in Los Angeles and flying in for the shoot, we enlisted the help of Elizabeth Jett to work with Christine in LA in order to bring the sketches to life.

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