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How I Shot That (LAFF Edition): Shooting ‘Trouble Dolls’ in 14 Days

How I Shot That (LAFF Edition): Shooting 'Trouble Dolls' in 14 Days

Jess Weixler and Jennifer Prediger co-directed “Trouble Dolls” together. It was their first foray behind the camera. Previously they had acted in various television shows and films. Their film tells the story of two codependent New York roommates who move to Los Angeles after being kicked out of their apartment, and the tests their friendship faces as they seek fame and fortune. It premieres on the 15th of June.

[Editor’s Note: Indiewire reached out to filmmakers with films playing at the 20th LA Film Festival (June 11-19) to ask them about how they shot their indie, and what advice they had for other filmmakers. We’ll be posting their responses throughout the run of the festival. Go HERE for the master list.]

What camera and lens did you use? We used a “Panavised” Alexa thanks to the wonderful folks at Panavision NY who let us use PRIMO prime lenses. Underwater work was done on a 7D with canon L series lenses.

What was the most difficult shoot on your movie and how did you pull it off? 
We shot this entire movie in 14 days, so many days were a feat. We were often crammed in small hot spaces and shooting 11 pages a day. But the hardest day logistically and certainly for our DP was the beach shoot fight scene and water scene in Malibu. There was tons of material, a handheld sequence on tiny, treacherous path, lots of mini crew moves, sand and saltwater to keep off the gear and then underwater work, all before scrambling to get beauty sunset and magic hour wide angles and close ups.

What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you BEFORE you started your movie? 
Find your editor in the very beginning so they can be getting to know the footage and assembling while you are shooting. Also, you can never start too early on your music. If you can have a music supervisor and composer working with you from pre production, all the better.

What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
“It will work itself out.” Things don’t really really seem to work themselves out on their own. You have to prepare and really over prepare all the little details. So when you get on set you can know the preparation is supporting you and stay open to surprises.

What’s the best?
“Stay open to surprises.” If you show up and something better than what you planned is happening, you should go with it. Stay flexible. Also, “shoot series” was a helpful bit of advice.

What advice do you have for aspiring or first-time filmmakers? 
Be happy with your script when you go into pre-production. Get a lot of feedback on it. Then always stay connected to the heart of your characters and what they desire in their journey. Its good to get to know them really well before you shoot and then discover more and more of who they are with every day. Rehearse if you can. If you can’t, give yourself time to shoot more takes. 

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