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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar Voynar@moviecitynews.com

Adventures in Filmmaking: Embedded in Post

Bunker Production Journal
November 20, 2011

Last Sunday, after three months of intensive pre-production work, and two 12-hour days of filming, we wrapped shooting Bunker and are now busily working on post. Whew.

We had a great couple days of filming, in part because we did a ton of work in pre-production to be organized and ready to go, but more because we had such an outstanding, professional crew working as a unified team on this shoot. This is exactly what I’d hoped for in the months of prep work and hiring decisions: to find a team of people who clicked well together personality-wise, and to create a set environment that made everyone feel we were on the ball and that they were taken care of.

Having heard so many film people complain over the years about the catering on projects they’d worked on, one of my priorities while wearing my producer hat for Bunker was to ensure that our crew was exceedingly well fed. When you’re asking people to go out on a limb on your first project and trust that you are actually going to be able to take the vision in your head and make it all work once you’re on set, and they’re all working for indie rates that are far less than what they could make on a commercial job, AND they’re giving up their weekend to work two 12-hour days to help you make your movie, the least you can do is feed them well, right? I knew we could do better-than-average food-wise, without breaking the bank. It’s generally way cheaper to buy ingredients to make many things homemade than to buy everything prepared, and it tastes a hell of a lot better. Also, in the interest of being green, we wanted to avoid having to buy (and recycle) a ton of water bottles. So we ordered stainless steel water bottles with belt-clips for the crew, and used the filtered water already available at the house at which we were shooting. My caterer, Texana Bossoff, totally rocked it. She even brought homemade cookies and brownies for a 4PM break for the crew both days. They loved her.

During the shoot, my actors, Rachel Delmar and Stefan Hajek, exceeded my lofty expectations for the performances they were capable of. They’re funny and soulful and transparently honest, and they gave of themselves emotionally over and over again to get just the right take on a crucial scene on the second day. We have take after solid take to choose from in editing, and most of the times we had to shoot more than three takes it was due to sound issues (we had a serious issue with chainsaws and leaf blowers in the neighborhood, but my oldest daughter Meg, who comfortably handled both wardrobe supervision and set dressing like she’s been on a set for years, also took charge of that, marching out the door to hunt down the leaf-blowers and chain-sawers and persuading them to shut it down).

I knew that Sam Graydon was going to be a great DP, and of course I was watching every take on the monitor, but sitting down with my editor, Joe Shapiro, to go through the rough cut last night, it really hit me just how good of a DP Sam is, with the creative choices he made with regard to framing and lenses and such. Just really solid, stunning footage, over and over and over. Sam’s crew: Seth Wessel-Estes on 1stAC, my husband, Mike Hodge, on 2ndAC, Richard Williams and Matt Bunker on gaffer, and Andrew Harrison (who just happened to be in town from the Netherlands and volunteered to work for free) on DIT, were rock-solid. My crack sound guy, Vinny Smith, was not only meticulous in his work, but funny as hell to boot, and Rhona Rubio, our script supervisor, meticulously noted every shot and pointed out a couple of continuity issues that would have screwed us in post if they’d slipped by. Our makeup artist, Anne Sellery, was fast and professional and also very fun to have around. Our two PAs, Levi Issacs and Mariellen Romer, worked for nothing but food and a Bunker water bottle, and they worked hard both days on the set. We couldn’t have done it without them.

Brittany Van Horne, in her first time as a set stills photographer, not only got more than enough behind-the-scenes stuff for us, but kept everyone smiling with her great, friendly attitude and even jumped in to help break set at the end of the second day, and my daughter Neve was our back-up stills photographer when Brittany had schedule conflicts. Donna Nolan cranked out the checks for everyone and kept me (more or less) on budget as line producer, and she and her husband Michael and daughter Kendra (and dog Sam, our set mascot), not only let us invade and transform their home, but helped us do it. My good friend Melanie Addington worked behind-the-scenes for months with me, and flew out from Oxford to work on the shoot as my 1stAD. I hope I never make a movie without her by my side.

On the homefront, I have to add that this movie would never had been made if it weren’t for my husband Mike, who not only exec produced and served as 2ndAC, but also built the gorgeous, custom entertainment center to match the other furniture, ran a million errands, hauled kids around tirelessly, and kept me sane throughout pre-production with his calm demeanor in a crisis. My stepson Duncan and son Jaxon helped paint the hallway and sand and stain the entertainment center, Mike’s ex and her partner loaned us the orange couch we needed, my daughter Neve did a billion things along the way, including providing a ton of moral support and helping babysit younger siblings. And my mom, Cherie, not only stepped in on a moments notice to watch kids all weekend when the plan for my kids to be with their dad for the weekend unexpectedly fell apart at the last minute, but also cleaned my house (it SO needed it) and caught up all the laundry.

In other words, we got Bunker shot, but it’s not my film, it’s our film. This project was a collaborative effort deliberately constructed around the principle of finding the people that fit best for each position in relation to all the other pieces, and then finding a balance between me communicating the vision in my head for how this film needed to look effectively, without stifling their ideas and creativity for how best to bring that vision to life. Now I’m working heads-down in post with my editor, Joe Shapiro, as we exactingly fine-tune to get to picture lock, so we can move on to post-sound and scoring, which is a little tricky for this film because the arc is carried by the dialog, so the score has to be understated and feel organic to the flow.

I’ll also be working very collaboratively with my composer, Ken Stringfellow; this weekend, we managed to squeeze in time to watch the rough cut and talk about some scoring ideas and direction backstage at the Neptune Theater, in between him also juggling is duties as both musician and tour manager for The Posies. On the plus side, the constraints of his schedule meant that I got to spend the afternoon and evening hanging out backstage in the Posies dressing room, which was pretty fascinating and made even more pleasant by Ken’s excellent taste in wine. I very much enjoyed the show, which included two great warm-up acts, Curtains for You, and Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs, followed by nearly two solid hours of The Posies. I was exhausted watching the guys and their incredible energy level through such a long set. After that, sometime around 2AM, I pulled my car into the dark alley behind the Neptune so some burly, friendly roadies could load up a bunch of Ken’s equipment, including a huge keyboard case, into it, then schlepped Ken over to West Seattle and dropped him off with some friends, so they could take him to the airport at 6AM to catch a flight back to France. Whew.

Ken and I will hit the studio to record score December 10, so we need to be at picture lock by December 8 at the latest. With this being Thanksgiving week, we probably won’t be as productive as I’d like. Fortunately we’re close, really close, to where we need to be to lock picture, then we’ll get the score and post-sound and colorist work banged out, do a final 5.1 mix, and be done with it before Christmas. Huzzah. Back to being buried in post … I’ll see you here and there over the next couple weeks, when I have few minutes to spare.

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