Time sure flies… seems like it was just yesterday when we began this series, and we’re already up to #11, which means we’ve been doing this for at least 11 weeks.
Principal photography has just about wrapped on the production, so big kudos to the entire team, cast and crew! Now onto the next phase…
Continuing on with the series. If you’re just joining us, click HERE to go back to the beginning, find out what this is all about, and catch up!
Shadow And Act Filmmaker Diary Series Week 12 “Last Week Of Filming”
Today marks the last week of filming for our feature film “The Last Fall”. Goodness gracious did it go by fast. I literally feel like this project has flashed before my eyes. I am extremely excited about this last week of filming coming up because we work with some amazing veteran actors. This week we welcome actress Vanessa Bell Calloway and actors Keith David and Obba Babatunde to our set. I cannot wait to work with all of them.
Sunday July 24th
After one day off we got back into the groove of shooting at our lead characters mother’s house. This is the only location that we shot in for more than one day and today we welcomed actresses Yaani King who is playing the lead characters sister “Chris Bishop” and Vanessa Bell Calloway who is playing the lead character’s Mother “Marie Bishop”. The house we ended up going with was in Reseda California and it was amazing. The owner is super cool too. He had an old school Sundance poster from the year 1995 hanging up in the main bedroom that we are shooting in and I think it’s kind of prophetic. We’ll see. Before we shot I had my AD call my crew over so that we could have a meeting. The message of the day was “getting comfortable”. I wanted to stress to each and everyone that while I appreciated them that I wanted to make sure that we continue to remain professional and to be on our best behavior as we were going to have a lot of people visiting set this week and the fact that we were going to be working with a high level of veteran actors. I got a little emotional when I was speaking about some of the things that I witnessed and probably said some things that I shouldn’t have but at the end of the day they needed to be said. No one person is bigger than the project as a whole. i said what I needed to say and we moved on from it. Today we shot an argument scene in the kitchen with Yaani King and Vanessa Bell and a scene with Lance’s character moving back home after being cut from his NFL team. My director of photography Richard Vialet (who is a Howard University graduate) is lighting his ass off. We really are taking some chances with this film and I love it. We did some crazy dutch angles for the argument scene and I think it really helped bring the intensity level up. We wrapped early today and had to because tomorrow we shoot one of the biggest action sequences in the film. The football try out scenes.
Monday July 25
Time keeps on slipping into the future. I had an ideal shot list all planned and worked out for the scene but it was extremely ambitious. We shot on the west side at the Rancho Cienga Sports Complex in Los Angeles, CA but we had to be out of there by 3pm. Today we welcomed actor Sam Scarber, Taylor Reed NFL player Sinorice Moss and actress Sakara Ross to our film. Got to set and there was mad people walking around the track already. Apparently the facility didn’t put up the signs informing people that we were going to be shooting there and I was afraid that we were going to have to do it ourselves and I could already see that being a problem. Luckily it got worked out by the time we were about to shoot and the manager of the facility was the person that cleared the space out for us. Today was crazy because it was the day that the NFL Lockout got resolved and one of the actors that was playing one of the roles was flying in to be apart of the film. The player we ended up casting was NFL wide receiver and the Philadephia Eagles own Sinorice Moss in the role of Drew Irving. It was good seeing Lance and Sinorice side by side and seeing that Lance does actually look like he could be an NFL caliber receiver. Today we shot the opening montage sequence and the work out scene. I spent way to much time on the opening and had to rush the workout stuff. The great thing about it was that Lance is a natural athlete and it didn’t take much in directing him and for his to look believable. I think the ladies will appreciate how we used Sinorice and Lance in the football and 40 yard dash scenes. We had some fun on set today and during lunch and I raced Lance in the 40 yard dash, I bet him $500 dollars that I could beat him. Lance posted some of that footage and somehow did video photoshop to it and made it seemed like I lost. It’s fine, at the end of the day if I did lose the race it was mearly a directing technique that I used in order to give Mr. Gross more confidence for the football scenes that were forth coming. Today was also a mini media day and big shouts out to our PR company “The Kartel Co” and Erica Lane and Duran Brown. Blogs Hip Hollywood, Global Grind and Necole Bitchie all came by set to do interviews with myself and some of the cast. It seems like a genuine buzz is already starting to happen with the film and that is really encouraging. Blogs like Shadow and Act and even the gossip blogs are a lot of times the first things that our target audiences wake up and check and it’s good to have them on our side, at least for now. I had to rush some of my football stuff but I believe I got everything that I needed. if not we may have to come back and reshoot a couple of things. I really hope not.
Tuesday July 26th
Today we welcomed Veteran actor Keith David to our set. This man is a beast of an actor and he is super cool. Sometimes I look at my life and I think back 10 and 15 years and I remember watching movies like Dead Presidents and Barbershop and Platoon and to be coming to work today and to work with this man is truly a surreal experience. Today we shot a hospital scene and it was my first time ever shooting on an actual soundstage. We shot at Central City Studios and they have an amazing hospital set that is actually quite affordable. I highly recommend that any filmmaker that needs to shoot a hospital scene go there to shoot it, you and your pockets will thank me later. Keith got to set and I rehearsed the lines with Lance. I could tell that today was going to be one of those days were we were going to have a decent amount of takes and that they both were going to have to warm up to the words. Today was a great day for that because we were going to have a little time. I hate rushing my actors but that’s kind of the nature of the beast when you are shooting an independent film and with 90 scenes in it and 45 different locations on a SAG Ultra Low Budget scale. Keith Lance and Yaani delivered amazing performances. It was nice to have a scene where we showed a father and a son connecting. We need more of that on film. The hospital stuff was directly pulled from my own life when I had to visit my own father in the hospital. After we wrapped the hospital scene we went over to the Inglewood area and shot a few montage sequence things. Vanessa Bell Calloway joined us after shooting on her Showtime television show “Shameless”. Her and Keith were both super cool to work with. More than anything I am super proud of my crew and especially the team that has been down with me dine day one. They are over delivering and really are making it seem as if I know what I’m doing.
Wednesday July 27th
I can’t believe I only have one more day of shooting left on this film after today. It really went by too fast. Today we shot back Lance’s character’s moms house and we started with a scene of his character getting his car taken away from him. I have this scene in the movie not because I think this is normal behavior for an NFL player but because it was something that happened to me. I feel like a lot of times we are not taught about money and financial responsibility and I know that I simply did not pay some of my bills. It wasn’t because I couldn’t it was more of being irresponsible and wanting to use that money for other things and eventually it came back and bit me in the ass and my car got repo’d while I was in my final year of playing in the league, I think it’s a powerful scene and I like it because it’s real. So many things go into a production and as a filmmaker when you write that script you have to be realistic with your expectations. I asked a lot from my producers, especially Scott Hebert, Nikki Love and Lucky Manning and they delivered time and time again. In certain areas I was flexible but in other areas I really didn’t care to hear the story of what all it took to make it work. All I wanted to see was results and today, especially with getting the tow truck, did they make it happen. The next scene we shot was Kyle coming back home for the first time and crossing paths with his mother before she went to work. It was our first introduction to Vanessa’s character in the film and G&E really made her look good. Lance’s agent and manager stopped by set today too and we showed them some of the footage. It was funny but everyone is really surprised by how good everything looks. I can’t say that I am surprised at that though. I really pride myself in making professional quality work and we really have went out of our way to make sure that this thing does not look like a low budget film. Today a major gossip blog TheYBF posted an article that was a first look about the film. They posted pictures and had some of my quotes in it. It was significant because this blog was not one of the outlets that visited set on Monday. The buzz must be getting out there or it was a slow news day but either way I was happy with the result. I am really going to have to stop reading the comment section for a lot of these things too. Everything was positive in the comments about our casting choices and the story that we were telling but I know that it isn’t going to last forever and I need to start not looking at that stuff now before I get my feelings hurt. We then went inside and shot the final two scenes of the day. We shot Lance’s character getting a call from his agent and we shot a scene of Lance in the shower while he is thinking about his career and his next move. Again I think the ladies will appreciate what we did here. Visually we are really taking some chances and I love it.
Thursday July 28th
Today is our last day of filming. I cant believe that it is hear already. There was a lot of love and positive energy flowing today and I was glad that we had Vanessa Bell and Obba Babtunde on set with us today to share in it. We announced today that grammy nominated group “The Foreign Exchange” was going to be doing the original score and soundtrack for our film as well. Today we started with a scene with Lance’s character and Yaani King’s character right when he first came back home. The scene was supposed to be awkward and Lance and Yaani really delivered that. The next scene we shot was a HUGE argument scene between Lance’s character, Vanessa Bell Calloway’s character and Obba Babatunde’s character. I knew that I was going to need a lot of coverage in this scene and the emotions really needed to come through. The thing I love about working with actors is that they challenge you every single day. Every time I get asked a question it forces me to think about whether or not I need to stand my ground or be flexible and compromise for the collaborative vision. Today I was challenged hard and I am so glad that I was. The final monologue in this argument scene that Lance was supposed to say to Vanessa Bell’s character was reading kind of false and he questioned me about it. We both agreed that I should rewrite it and I literally had to step away from set go into the trailer and come up with something better on the fly. The best part about doing this movie is that it is based on true events in my own life and that made it so much easier to be able to give direction and to go and basically rewrite a huge scene on the fly. My mother and God really spoke to me because the words that ended up coming out of me I think are going to be what ends up making the movie make sense to a lot of people and it really makes you route for the character. This scene basically spoke on the feeling of helplessness that a lot of athletes feel when they are doing this high profile job but still are not in a position to where they can hep there families. That shit is so real. Obba and Vanessa really brought there A games with them to set today and I am so glad I casted them. We wrapped principle photography for “The Last Fall” at 9:37pm and we went into the backyard and had a little mini gathering. I gave a speech and I had my producers and actors give a speech and I really think that every was able to see what we were fighting for. Working on this film has been such an amazing experience and journey for me and I miss it already. We are going to start editing this bad boy on Monday and I plan on releasing a teaser trailer for it sometime in late August or early September. I really think that we have something special on our hands. We are going to have probably two days of pick up days that we are going to have to schedule but the good thing is that all of the actors are aware of it and are down for the cause. Nicole Beharie and a lot of the veteran actors told me that they believe in us and that really meant a lot to me. I think a lot of people are going to be pleasantly surprised with this film and especially Lance’s performance. He was number one on our call sheet and he really carried this movie and I am extremely proud of him and all our actors. The people that I am most proud of is our crew, they were all so amazing and humble and just really were the glue that held everything together. It is one of my goals to get accepted to and screen this baby at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. I know it’s possible. That’s a wrap on principle photography for my debut feature film “The Last Fall”.
“Filmmaking is the ultimate collaborative art form. No one person in front of or behind the camera is ever bigger than the project as a whole.”
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