For the past few days I’ve been having dreams about directing movies… and they are unnaturally surreal, as my dreams often are. While the specifics of the dreams have begun to fade and my dreams return to normal, non-directing dreams, I have come to realize something—whenever I dream about something I’ve experienced, it usually means I’ve been doing it too much.
That epiphany first dawned on me when I was playing World of Warcraft for 15-18hrs a day. Guess what? My dreams were me, as a dwarf of gnome, running through Azeroth. The really weird part was that the resolution in my dream was the same my computer had been set to render WoW. I didn’t need my wife to tell me it was time to stop.
But, making ALGORITHM is a bit different, if for no other reason than the simple fact that making ALGORITHM is moving my the plot of my life forward; whereas playing WoW all day was more like a pause button, needed though it was. So, I can’t quite apply the same logic to the directing dreams as I can to the mage dreams. Even so, it was very strange. I’ve been making movies for about 5 years now and this dreaming thing is a first.
I suppose all of that is really a primer to say that we’ve wrapped. We are no longer filming ALGORITHM. It’s now data on my hard drives. I can’t quite wrap it up like that. I want to really give you a sense of the feeling I’ve got.
We wrapped on Tuesday September 24th 2013, at 9:00pm. I know that specifically because the last location insisted we finish and be packed up by 9:00pm and we generally end exactly when we need to.
On the 25th, I spent the day backing up the data to a 2nd G-Drive which I left with a friend. This is called co-location. That way, if my house explodes, burns down, is broken into, falls into the depths of the earth, etc, then the hard drive at my friend’s house will remain and all will not be lost. The more important the data is, the more important it is to have at more than one place.
The backup finished at, strangely, 9:00pm, and we packed up and readied to leave at 10:00pm, which is when I had told Paulina Laurant we would be leaving. She had several meetings lined up for future paying acting jobs. That’s what it’s like working with talented people. They’re busy, they’re in demand. Paulina needed to get back to Los Angeles by 9:00am the following day, which meant I had to pull a 24hr day to get her there. I highly recommend not doing this. It wasn’t safe. But, it’s done now.
Anyway, while Paulina slept, Chris Panzera, who I was also giving a ride home, and I were talking. The enormity of what we had accomplished began to sink in. I wouldn’t say he’s a method actor, but he’s very in-the-moment. When he’s on set and I call action, he’s in character, thinking like the character, acting as the character would, responding to his environment. That ability is why I cast him as the main character. The side-effect of that immersive way of acting is that he doesn’t really think about the bigger picture. He’s only thinking about the character and, appropriately, trusting the big picture to me.
It wasn’t until he left the near-term of the set that we had done something great, something that most people won’t believe we could do, even when we tell them we did it.
To put it in perspective, I’m going to share something here that I emailed to a friend. Matt Wallace, a fellow writer (I’ve probably mentioned him before in the pre-production journal), and I were talking after I got back to Los Angeles. I was telling him about what we had done and he asked me to send him some stats so he could blog about it, in an effort to help encourage other creatives of what is possible. I’m going to post here what I shared with him:
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I have been writing ALGORITHM for over a year and a half and have done well over 30 drafts.
We got our funding on Indiegogo (which I strongly do not recommend using). Our goal was to raise $30,000, but we ended up getting $8,747 ( $7,613.31 after Indiegogo/Paypal fees were paid). After all the bills came in, not including my personal travel and meal expenses, we came in about $300 under budget. That money covered meals, production insurance, professional sound recordists and makeup artist expenses, as well as travel fees for the actors who had to come from Los Angeles.
Bringing it in under budget was possible because of a different business model I created. Rather than paying people up-front, we give them back-end based on days worked. However, the reason we were able to get the level of talent, both in actors and crew, is because of the quality of the script. Most of the cast and crew have no expectation of getting any money. I think it’s wrong to not pay people and this model easily lends itself to abuse, so it should only be used with people who are trusted.
We filmed for 14 days. We had a maximum of 25 days, but were able to schedule everything in to fit in 23 days, including travel days. I left Los Angeles on the morning of September 3rd and returned on the morning of the 26th.
We had a cast of 34 people, all of whom I personally auditioned and selected.
We had a total crew of 21 people, but no more than 8 on any given day, not including myself.
Many of our actual physical locations were used for more than one movie location. We had a total of 31 actual locations, including Sutro Tower (easily the tallest structure in San Francisco), two mansions, various street locations, parks, national land marks, restaurants, and apartments.
Other than the cast and crew, there were 46 people (there are probably considerably more people, but we’re still doing a full count) who helped make ALGORITHM possible, not including people who helped fund and promote the crowdfunding campaign.
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ALGORITHM was a massive dream. Everyone involved loved doing it and already are starting to tell stories about it. It was smooth. All the actors and crew are gifted people and I’d be honored to work with any of them again. We got things we shouldn’t have been able to get and the only way I can really sum up what it felt like is divine intervention. Make of that what you will.
Thus ends the ALGORITHM Production Blog. I’ll be keeping a Post-Production blog as I edit the movie, and then a Distribution blog when we move to that stage. A copy of this blog, as well as all other ALGORITHM related materials can be found at www.spiritusvult.com, or you can go to www.thehackermovie.com to see the latest in what’s going on with ALGORITHM.
Thank you for your interest.