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Monthly Archives: August 2008

Jong Mabe came on board this production as the Wardrobe Consultant.  With her help, we have coordinated some looks for the characters to help their stories come alive on screen.

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Though The Swing is set in central Texas, it is being filmed entirely in the greater Oklahoma City area.  Our very grateful special thanks to these individuals who have allowed our crew to trespass on their kindness and peaceful properties to create this film:

– Sara Weeks for allowing us to use her family’s farm to shoot our farmhouse location.  This location is very special because it has been in her family since the Land Run and also because we will be the first and last film to be made there — the farmhouse is scheduled to be demolished soon.  Also thanks to Dino Lalli at the OFMO for his help in finding the farmhouse.

– Meadowood Village Apartments in Midwest City for allowing us use of their facilities for producing the majority of this film.  This attractive, peaceful and well-located apartment complex has been very generous to allow us access to an empty apartment and around the property exterior.  We appreciate the Property Manager, Paula Maxwell, as well as their corporate offices, National Property Management Associates, very much.

They may be all volunteer, but this crew is nothing but professional.  This film would be nothing without these very talented individuals, and I owe them an enormous debt for their generosity:

Director of Photography – Geoff Boyd
Additional Camera Operator – Skyler
Key Grip/Gaffer – Kory Malcom
Grip/Lighting Assistant – Justin Boyd
Script Supervisor – Ilea Shutler
Sound – Brian Gililland
Casting Director – Brian Gililland
Wardrobe Consultant – Jong Mabe
Production Assistant – Chris Malcom
Production Assistant – Beth Wickman

Auditions were a great success.  Casting Director Brian Gililland and I found a tremendous group of talented actors with the help of the local casting agencies, university theatre professors, and a listing at the OFMO website.  Congratulations to the new cast:

Emma McGeary – Laura Stephenson
Charlie McGeary – John Ferguson
Young Emma – Gabrielle Clark
Sarah McGeary – Judi Arvay
Audrey McGeary – Michaela Bishop
Toni Baldwin – TBA
Michelle Brown – Charmaine Thomas
Mary – Lyudmila McCoy
Mrs. Sanders – Jackie Smola
Mr. Harris – Thaine Odom
Officer – Bradley Wynn
Mrs. Henderson – Chris Malcom
Waitress – TBA

Pre-production begain in mid-July — but looking back I wish I had started in mid-March.  Or maybe mid-January.

I began with the recruiting of crew members — the vital folks without whom there won’t be a picture of any kind.  Sure I can operate a camera and strike a light, but a one-man crew for a script like this is basically equivalent to suicide.  I knew without pay I needed to get these guys schedules booked early or risk losing them.

Next came the casting call.  Some of my fellow students have asked me how I approached this, so I’ll just tell you all my secret.  First, I went to the OFMO website and printed off their resource directory listing for all Casting contacts.  Then, I not only emailed them, but also every theatre professor of a major university (with a decent acting program) within driving distance.  I also contacted Brett Adkins at OFMO to post my casting and crew calls in the Jobs section on their website (thanks for your help, Brett!).  I received about 40 applicants for cast, and maybe 15 for crew.

I did learn that I should have allowed more time for additional auditions and for wardrobe.  Allowing time for this interfered with the location scouting I had already scheduled myself to accomplish.  The week prior to production I took afternoons off work and the day before completely off to make preparations.

The script calls for 12+ actors — Challenge #1.  The script calls for around six different locations — Challenge #2.  I sure didn’t think about those things when I wrote the script or when I selected it for my Capstone project.  Other fellow film students are fortunate to have 1 or 2 locations and 2 or 3 characters.  Just another thing to consider when factoring your pre-production time.

My first two, and primary, locations were the hardest to find — I thought they would be the easiest.  Surely everyone in Oklahoma knows somebody who has a farmhouse or a house out in the country somewhere, right?  Nope.  Surely a community college student knows somebody who lives in an apartment, right?  Sure — but not in the kind of apartment I saw for Emma.  Finding a ritzy or a gangville apartment was easy, but not one in the middle.  The farmhouse location was secured on the Thursday before production began, and the apartment was secured the day before.  Which presented me with Challenge #3 — preparation of camera angles.

While some of the script guides you directly to the proper camera angle, the rest of the script leaves it to your imagination.  Because I did not have enough lead time to get familiar with the locations, I really did not have the opportunity to plan out the shots.  Sure, you can plan to use a close-up or a medium shot of the characters, but until you’ve got the floor plan of your location, you can’t be sure that you aren’t breaking the line or that you are limited on where the furniture and props can be placed.  Not being organized ahead of time complicates the process.  But hindsight is 20/20.  And my difficulty in finding locations was not entirely within my control.

I am fortunate enough to not only be surrounded by film students but I also work for a film company — my extremely talented co-workers being wonderful sources of wisdom and helpful tips.

At some point I will try to revisit this post to update it with more of the things that I learned during pre-production, but until then, I’ve gotta go get back to work on what’s at hand.