May 18, 2016 - 10:47pm by Adam Dravian
If you haven’t read it yet, click here to read Part One of my commentary on the making of our live-action SN8X promo videos. That part covered pre-production, now this’ll cover the rest.
Once again, I’ll be sprinkling this post with promo shots taken during the production, like this one:
Photo by Michael Cook.
There's also a behind the scenes video at the very end of this post.
We shot the promo over the course of three days, with the bulk of it being done on day two.
THE SHOOT: DAY ONE: DANCE AND BLOW
Not only did my buddy Michael Cook save the production by lighting it and serving as a secondary cameraman (and eventually the main music composer), but he also agreed to let us shoot most of the promo in and around the studio space he rents. The first thing we shot was the Veronica dance sequence.
Photo by Michael Cook. Jessica doing the "spine-breaker" tits and ass pose that comic artists are commonly critizised for using, proving that it's totally possible--and she's not even a super hero (that I know of).
Originally, we were going to have Jessica perform some kind of choreographed ‘80s dance, but the shooting day snuck up on us before she got the chance to learn one, so we just winged it. Looking back, we totally should have done a parody of an ‘80s workout video instead, considering her costume.
We made two little fuckups while shooting this scene.
Fuckup No. 1: The first song she danced to was “The Limit” from the Scarface soundtrack (or, as I was introduced to it, from GTA III’s Flashback radio channel) which was so high-tempo that Jessica worked up a sweat. So we changed to more mid-tempo songs to prevent Jessica from becoming a sweaty mess and ruining all the ‘80s makeup Izabella VanRyn had glammed her up with.
Photo by Michael Cook. You can totally see some sweat on Jessica's leotard below her tits. How disgusting.
Fuckup No. 2: We recorded Jessica dancing to about four or five different ‘80s songs since we didn’t yet have our own music recorded for the promo. But these songs all had slight variations in the tempo, so later, when I was editing the footage by cobbling together clips from the various takes, it was a pain to get her movements to sync up to the music we ended up using. There was also a whole lot of great looking footage, so it was hard to choose what to get rid of in order to whittle it down to just thirty seconds or so.
Jessica has a much better sense of rhythm than I do, so she actually ended up taking over and re-editing the dance sequence.
The only other thing we filmed during that first day of shooting was the short sequence where I snort coke off of Veronica’s ass.
Jessica took this in the dressing room just before we shot the coke scene. In the brighter lighting you can get a better look at the exellent makeup job Izzy did.
While Jessica changed into attire more appropriate for a human coke tray, Mike and I rearranged the studio to make it look like we’re sitting in some kind of sleazy nightclub. I also got into my costume, which consisted of an ‘80s suit jacket from Jessica’s dad’s closet, a pair of knockoff Ray-Ban sunglasses, and a stupid curly black wig I'd purchased for a cockrocker Halloween costume a few years ago.
Photo by Michael Cook. This was taken before Jessica changed costumes. I totally should've rolled the sleeves up.
However, just as we were about to begin shooting, we had some unexpected visitors. Mike shares the studio space with some other guys, and he forgot that his friend’s band was scheduled to practice there that night. So Jessica had the awkwardness of walking around in high heels, a thong, and and a boobilicious bustier in front of a bunch of dudes that she’d never met before.
Jessica's ass is super ticklish, so she had to struggle not to flinch and laugh every time I'd pretend to snort coke off it. By the way, I didn’t actually snort anything. I thought about using some kind of fake coke prop, but I’m glad we didn’t. The camera was pulled back too far to be able to tell anyway, and the fake coke would’ve caused a mess on Jessica’s ass that we would’ve have to clean up each time we wanted to do another take.
Oh man, that last sentence really opened the gateway to so many obscene jokes, but I’ll show some restraint (afterall, Jessica's mom reads these things).
THE SHOOT: DAY TWO: EDDIE & PUNKS
Photo by Michael Cook.
It was a pain in the ass to schedule a day when everyone would be available to shoot the punk scenes. Mostly because our friend Matt, who played Eddie, lives out of town. I was hoping we’d be able to shoot all of the scenes featuring Matt over the course of two days, but I couldn’t get everyone’s schedules to align for more than one. Since one day is all I had to work with, I made a detailed shooting schedule, which was complicated by the fact that Matt and Jessica would have to change costumes multiple times over the course of the day. It would be a jam-packed day of shooting, but it seemed possible on paper, as long as things didn’t go wrong.
Things went wrong.
First was the weather. I had planned to shoot the promo toward the end of summer when it would be nice out, but things got delayed until the start of October. October is usually a chilly month in Michigan, but sometimes the first couple weeks can be pretty nice. Of course, our shoot happened to fall on a particularly cold and windy day. But at least it wasn’t raining.
Second, there were some delays in getting started, putting us an hour behind schedule. But I couldn’t allow myself to get stressed out about that, or my anxiety would bum everyone the fuck out and we’d end up having a terrible shoot. So we plowed ahead and made the best of things.
Photo by Michael Cook. It's a shame it wasn't framed just a bit further back...
As soon as Izzy was done with the hair and makeup for Matt (Eddie/Satan Ninja) and Jessica (Veronica), we shot the scene of Eddie going to his mailbox and encountering the jogging valley girl.
We also recorded the shots of the satan ninja in our living room throwing the ninja star and giving a thumbs up for the “But Daaad!” video, since Matt wouldn’t be around when we shot the rest of that scene the following week.
As soon as we were done, we re-located over to Mike’s studio to shoot the rest of the day’s scenes. Everyone got done up in punk garb, and we shot the short scene where we bully Eddie into telling us how to solve the Rubik’s cube.
Jessica had decided to drink vodka to curb her anxiety, starting early in the day before the jogging scene, and by the time we shot the first punk scene, she was totally hammered. In fact, she can’t even recall shooting any of the scenes where she played the blue-haired punk. It’s kind of amazing she was able to act at all while she was so wasted.
[Jessica: Actually, I was also pretty tipsy for the dance and coke scenes. I swear I’m not a raging alcoholic! I only drink for parties and recording devices. However, I was stone sober when I played The Boy.]
Photo by Michael Cook. Jessica has no memory of this mini-photoshoot Mike did between scenes.
Then we went outside Mike’s studio to record the “I Got Something I Wanna Show Ya” video. By that time, it was mega-fucking cold outside. Also, our lighting rigs would throw the building’s circuit breakers if we left them on much longer than 30 seconds, so we had to remember to turn them off after every single take. That also meant we didn’t have enough juice to power the fog machine, which was a bummer, but it was probably too windy for the fog to stick around anyway.
Photo by Michael Cook. You can see her goose flesh from the cold. Apparently being black-out drunk wasn't enough to keep her warm.
Since Jessica was already done up as the blue-haired punk from the previous scene we shot, we shot all the scenes that showed her with the punks first, then took a break as Izzy made her up to become Veronica again.
Speaking of Jessica as Veronica, it was so fucking hard to get good footage of her walking in her high heels. Not only is Jessica completely unfamiliar with walking in stiletto heels, but she was super drunk and freezing and her knees hurt and she had to walk over totally uneven and rocky dirt ground—all while trying to look sexy. Even in the footage I ended up using, you can see her stumble a bit.
In the script, after the satan ninja says, “Now let’s party,” it was going to cut to an indoors shot of everyone indulging in a pizza/dance party. But by the time we finished shooting the outdoors scenes, it was so late that not enough people stuck around for the pizza, so we didn’t end up filming that.
Photo by Michael Cook.
Speaking of things that got cut, I originally intended to shoot one more sequence that night: The Satan Ninja Rap. I had written and recorded a really stupid ‘80s-inspired rap song. Anyone who knows me can attest that I’m the least qualified person to have anything to do with rap, as it’s totally not my thing. But I was tickled by the idea of a cheesy satan ninja rap.
We actually did shoot a quick video for the rap at the very end of our long day of shooting, but we had to rush things so much that the final product just wasn’t up to snuff. Someday we’ll give it a proper music video. Here’s a screencap from the unreleased sequence:
Our freind Caitlin (on the right) filled in as the second dancing girl after Izzy had to leave. We intended to film this against a green screen backdrop, but didn't have time to set it up properly.
THE SHOOT: DAY THREE: FATHER AND SON
About a week after our second day of shooting, we shot the final sequence needed for the promo: the “But Daaad!” sequence. Izzy came over to help with hair, makeup and effects (the ninja star in the eye), then she took off and Jessica and I spent a few hours shooting the sequence with just the two of us.
The most difficult part was the final shot, where I reach up with my “satan hands”. I was lying down next to the futon and had to quickly flip on the red light just before reaching up. And since I couldn’t see what I was doing with my hands, it took a whole bunch of takes to get right.
Visually, we think the “But Daaad!” sequence is the least impressive, as we didn’t have good lighting set up or a cool set to use, but also we think it’s the funniest of the three promo videos, so it sort of balances out.
Never fuck with an '80s dad.
We decided to go the route of '80s Italian B movies and record all of the audio in post. I have a little recording setup that I use when I’m recording voice acting or vocals for my band, so I had all the actors come over and use it to overdub their lines, except for Matt G. (Eddie/Satan Ninja), who recorded all his lines remotely.
For the most part, the dubbing turned out fine, but there are some lines where the lip syncing is a bit off, especially during the sequence between Eddie and Veronica by the mail box.
Most of the music was recorded by our friends. Matt G. (AKA BATTLEDAMAGE) recorded the song heard during the “coke snorting” scene. Gregg (sunglasses punk) provided the chip-tune song heard when the “boy” is playing a video game. Mike (co-producer/co-cinematographer/lighting dude) wrote the songs heard during the comic page montage sequences and the “Veronica jogging” scene. The only track we use that wasn’t recorded by a friend of ours is the badass track “Péndulo Oculto” by Nightcrawler, which is featured during the start of the scene with Veronica and the punks.
And that’s about it. I spent a couple 40-some hour sessions in an editing frenzy, and the promo videos were finally done.
BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEO
I recorded some behind the scenes footage with my old shitty camcorder. Mostly while Izzy was prepping Matt and Jessica for the mailbox sequence. After that, I was too busy to record any behind the scenes stuff, but I brought the camera along to Mike’s studio and told everyone they could go ahead and record stuff with the camera if they felt like it. It’s mostly the actors fucking around while waiting to film their next scenes.
Here are the results: