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Mark A. Pierce, Inc.

Diverse & Dynamic Direction

Moon Creek Cemetery Begins

After months of planning and preparation yada, yada, yada--we are three days away from the start of principal shooting. It's exhilarating and scary at the same time. Independent filmmaking truly operates by the maxim of "put your money where your mouth is". Now I know why producers and other people behind the camera thank their families when they win awards, or become successful. It is a leap of faith--that's art. And sometimes only family and very special friends are the only ones who will help you realize you actually are an artist, in reality. But, aside from all that, I know I have good product. I will be blogging small excerpts of the day's shoot to give our fans an idea of what we went through. Perhaps it may inspire, and it surely will help others avoid my pitfalls. Talk to you in a couple of days.


As Dorothy said while in Oz, "People come and go so quickly around here." There have been supporting cast members I've had to replace in the weeks following the contracts being signed. The latest flake is a former make-up artist whom I will not dignify by naming. She tried to force me to hire a friend of hers and when I balked, she quit. But the show will go on--it is definitely her loss, as far as me and many others see it. More news to more day! If only my sister were here. She has an MFA in theater and while I can get around in make-up all right, she's an expert.


The day before shooting began I had one of the most excruciating migraine headaches I've had in the 2 years since I started getting them. I was very concerned I would have to deal with filiming in that state, but I recovered, fortunately. If I hadn't, the day would have really thrown me off-kilter. The production assistants from Hancock College of Santa Maria were stellar, make-up and hair were more than ably handled by new personnel and my camera operators are well-versed in the profession. The shots are beautiful, even to the point of being comparable to framed pictures, at times. The acting talent were quite competent and added depth to their original interpretations. THE BAD STUFF I found out that happens the first day is that shooting takes much longer than you can plan for. Half the talent we had called today had to stay overnight after making plans to be returning to L.A. in the afternoon. And then to top it all off, a location closed down and we weren't able to shoot a sequence. Hopefully we can pick it up, soon. But money has now been spent on the actors to perform under tight time constraints and I haven't got anything to show for it. THE GREAT NEWS was I able to direct my grandson in order to make him SAG-eligible; and nepotism being what it is, yes, I cast his mother and father, as well (neener, neener).


Shot at a home, tonight. Will be doing so, the next weekend, as well. Make-up was very happy because the owner has a beauty shop on grounds. The cast had the professional digs for hair and make-up. THE GOOD STUFF was that the actor's performances were mesmerizing, and they all looked so good, too. I must say, even the evil people in the film are good looking! THE BAD STUFF was that my crew couldn't stay as late as planned and we have even more pick-ups to do. This next weekend is critical or we'll be playing catch up, or having to amass more funds to complete it at a later time. Though we didn't get as much shot the second day, the production team was better prepared because of pre-shoot collaborating. Hours total for the first weekend of actual shooting: 33 hours over two days.


Did a pick up on a scene we missed from the first weekend on Friday night. The radio station we used was awesome looking. Saturday was spent grinding out scenes from a house location for the second straight weekend. THE GOOD STUFF was we had police picture vehicles for sequences for the weekend. THE BAD STUFF was a film card was lost ($900 value).


We shot at three different locations on Sunday, with a 100 miles separating the last two. My camera man's car ran out of gas in the middle of the Los Padres Forest. 


This was the most expensive weekend of the shoot. Had problems with staying on schedule again and that cut into about 3 hours of time at a fee-based location. Santa Maria city management was much more cooperative with the company regarding fees, etc. Arroyo Grande forced us to paying for a police officer on set while we were filming, and reneged on the original shooting schedule. This meant housing all the child actors for the Sunday shoot on Saturday. GOOD STUFF We finally got shots of the cemetery location. The Hatchet Lady made her premiere, and we raised the Devil. BAD STUFF We couldn't get all the shots we needed at the cemetery location.


A very fatiguing day. Shooting started at 7:30 a.m., giving the production crew about 2 hours sleep. The kids were great, however. Time constraints had the scenes shortened for them, unfortunately. GOOD STUFF The child actors took direction well, and were professional, and their parents were great to work with.

BAD STUFF Had to stop production for the day early because no one but the director was willing to drive the cast members back to Los Angeles. A majority of the cast didn't take heed to the announcement made during check-in that breakfast was to be the continental breakfast at the hotel (I guess they didn't think I was serious). Then, the caterer was AWOL for the second straight weekend for a meal (this time lunch). The previous weekend she didn't get my cast their breakfast. I sent a PA to look for her at the location agreed upon, and was told she was not there. So, I just closed everything down and took everybody across the street for some pizza. She's trying to charge me for the meals and said she showed. I hit an emotional wall that was pretty devastating. But I am resilient.


In response to the previous weekend, the Saturday shoot this week was very productive and we got a lot of coverage. We shot during the day and at night. The night shoot was at a location that has so much atmospheric ambiance. THE GOOD STUFF was that our Bigfoot looked so convincing in all sequences shot there. Definitely not Harry and the Hendersons. THE BAD STUFF was we finished early Sunday morning and had to drive back to Santa Maria in a thick fog.


What we picked up in production on Saturday, we lost on Sunday, but we were still productive. We were done Sunday by midnight (an early night for us). We shot in the same location of the previous night. THE GOOD STUFF was that the historical restaurant was not as inundated with patrons as it would normally have been. This allowed for easier cast and crew access, but that's not to say it wasn't busy. The customers loved our Bigfoot and took many pictures with him. I got to shoot my service Beretta, finally, for the film (about 30 rounds, during the day). That was fun and a strange pressure-valve release for me, as well. THE BAD STUFF is that we still have about six sequences to shoot and have to reload some funding to finish. The principal shoot is 80% completed.