Thursday, July 30, 2009

Continue. Tomorrow.

It's 9:29 PM in Washington D.C. I'm sitting in the air conditioned, One Washington Circle Hotel, burning a backup DVD for tomorrow's presentation. Shirt and slacks are draped neatly over the furniture and I'm sipping Diet Mountain Dew in an attempt to stay awake and still maintain a slender figure. Jeff is taking a quick nap on the designer sofa. Both of us are digesting Thai and fighting off the effects caused by pre-celebration spirits.

It's strange, but somehow it's hard to really believe that our film is (for the most part) done. Jeff and I would certainly like to color correct a couple of shots before the official release. We also have to make sure that we aren't leaving anyone out of the credits. That said, tomorrow's cut is 99.5% the real deal. We've locked down the finished edit, which means... no uncorked edition. Other than the color and title corrected final version.

Jeff and I are nervous about tomorrow. We've come so far to have anything go wrong. Jeff is mostly worried about equipment malfunction. I'm concerned about the possibility that the project won't be well received. I say that knowing that what we have is really special.

No one has ever taken the time to film 28 activities that are accessible to individuals with spinal cord injury and disease; and then put that footage together in a comprehensive film that will showcase the opportunities available. There have been several well-produced, single activity productions. There have also been several "all types of disabilities" videos. But until now, there is no definitive sampling for newly-injured, spinal cord injury/disease specific patients. Even if the film bombs, we are still providing something that has never been been done.

I'm fearful, but I'm optimistic. Optimistic because this production contains a lot of heart. None of us are making any money on this production. None of us are planning on selling the video for profit. We simply want the production to be readily available to those who are curious about the next step in their recovery.

And so, tomorrow we publicly screen "Continue" for the first time ever. Following the screening, Jeff and I will discuss the film with members of the PVA. I'm looking forward to putting it out there. I'm looking forward to getting some sleep. I'm looking forward to the possibility of other adaptive-related productions. But mostly, I'm looking forward to offering this film as a resource to those who have experienced a life-changing injury.

"But enough of words. Actions speak louder than. Action now. Observe all."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

End in Sight: Two Days to Go!

It's now 7:44 PM on July 29th, 2009. I've just finished cutting together the final 30 seconds of "continue". Wow. This production actually has a structure. Last night, Jeff and I finished reviewing and fine-tuning each sequence. The production now sits at 24 minutes, 49 seconds and six frames. Originally I wanted to bring this baby in under 22. But a flow is a flow and I think our production moves very naturally.

Today, Tyler Smith and I laid out the end credits. He's going to be working on the graphics tonight. We need to have something finished by 11:00 PM so that we can export the final HD project to a P2 card for Friday's. We are also planning on burning a DVD (Standard Definition) copy for back up, as well as having a copy on Jeff's laptop. Our flight leaves at 8:55 tomorrow morning, so we haven't much time to lose. Hell, we might actually pull this thing off.

My residence, a.k.a. T9-10 HQ is looking like a disaster area. I guess that's what happens when you get in the zone.

Jeff has secured a 7500 Lumens, HD projector and sound system for our presentation to the Paralyzed Veterans of America. We want to give them the best screening possible without completely blinding them.

As for me...Sleep deprivation is curbing any nervousness about the approaching deadline. Blood no longer pumps through my veins. Instead... Red Bull.

We are almost at journey's end. So now, I must prepare for Tyler's arrival. The cut must be finished within the next three to four hours!

More to come...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Principal Photography Completed! Five Days to Go!

We began principal photography for this production on Friday, May 18th, 2007. Yesterday morning at 8:15, over two years later, Jeff Rosenbluth and I filmed the very last shot of "continue". It's amazing to think that everything is coming to an end. That said there is still so much to do.

Jeff filmed from the back of my car and we managed to capture the footage in less than 20 minutes. It was a beautiful morning and we chose to shoot on Saltair Drive. The same secluded road that we shot handcycling test footage on back in 2003. What a fitting bookends.

Tyler spent the weekend assisting me with the "Call of the Wild" and "Team Sports" sequences. The team sports sequence, which consists of basketball, rugby and sledge hockey, took an entire day to complete. Not to mention the countless hours spent agonizing over how to assemble the two minute and 30 second sequence. Tyler is an asset because he's very good at recognizing shots and cuts that don't work. He can also assist in helping me break through walls once I hit them. And I've hit them often.

Filming team sports was difficult because there are so many factors at work. First, you have multiple players doing different things from shot to shot. Rarely is there any consistency in action. Second, there were many stand alone shots that looked amazing. However, connected to other shots, the stand alone shots just don't work. Finally, selecting the best of the best was extremely difficult.

Jeff and I spent the entire day trimming sequences, adding the adaptive gaming sequence and editing climbing and surfing. Today, we will finish polishing the edits and prepare the footage for color correction. All color and titles will be added over the next three days.

Now I'd like to talk about food. During marathon editing sessions (18 hours or more) it's important to maintain a good diet regimen. Early in my career I discovered that certain foods and food combinations could be detrimental to the editor's body. The following foods should never be consumed in conjunction with one another.

Sushi has always been a staple dietary supplement during editing. Back in college, my instructor and friend (now assistant editor) Tyler, used to make sushi for the long nights of cutting. I highly recommend nigiri. Basically anything that won't make you feel like crap.

Eat wise, eat healthy, edit well.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Seven Days To Go!

The heat is on. It's on the streets. Actually it's on the screen. This is the last stretch of a seven-plus year marathon. Last night we finished filming the last sequence of our production. Yes, a little late... but this was a sequence that needed to be in the production. Adaptive Gaming.

We filmed the sequence at the Sorenson Unity Center. Their event specialist, Charles Earl, helped set up the projector and screen. In addition to serving as our lighting crew. Just prior to the shoot our original participant called Jeff (the producer/DP) and said that he wasn't feeling too well. Jeff quickly scrambled to locate another participant. No easy task, considering that we needed C5 Tetraplegic who uses a sip and puff power chair. As luck would have it, Jeff finally tracked Mike Hanna. Mike came with his father, Mike Hanna, Sr.

Jeff assisted both Mikes with the attachment of the adaptive gaming device. An electronic video game controller that lets users with limited or no arm function play video games. It's like a joy stick for the mouth. All controls can be accessed using lips, tongue and chin. It's a rather amazing piece of technology. Once attached, we fired up the projector, readied the camera and light and positioned our talent.

We used a Bode Miller game to simulate skiing. The idea is to integrate this gaming sequence into the alpine skiing sequence.


The shoot took over two hours to complete. Not too bad. After finishing Mike's shots, we reviewed the footage together and then let the talent split... with the gaming system! It's all his. Jeff, Charles and I the finished getting some screen shots.

Mike Sr.

This gaming is an incredible option for many individuals with high levels of SCI. "Continue" focuses on the entire range of paralysis, but until now, it hasn't included C5 Tetraplegia (Quadriplegia). I'm really excited to have this new footage.

Now... time to edit. The plane tickets for D.C. have been purchased, so there's no turning back. We present to the PVA at 10 AM on Friday July 31st. This is crunch time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 31st, 10:00 AM

It's now official: At the end of this month, Jeff Rosenbluth (Producer/DP) and I will present "continue" to the Paralyzed Veterans of America in Washington D.C. That means we now have just over two weeks to finish the final assembly of video sequences. The fact that the end is near is both exciting and terrifying. Many have asked if I'm going to be depressed once the film is finished. They liken it to the process of getting married or having a baby. Once the the deed is done, what then? To be honest, I'm not sure how I'll feel. This thing has been a part of my life for the past seven plus years.

So, editing. As with all post-production, momentum and energy are crucial. There have been times when the momentum has come to a screeching halt. At those moments, it's difficult to start pedaling again. That's why I've asked my good friend and extremely competent editor, Tyler Smith to once again join the Merry Pranksters. Tyler helped us out in 2003, when Jeff and I were beginning to get test footage and see if this project could fly. Tyler is currently the assistant editor for "continue" and I'm happy as Hell to have him back on board.

Over the past several days, Tyler and I have assembled over six minutes of the final project. Seeing the individual sequences come together like jigsaw pieces, has been very exciting. I think the project is finally taking shape. As of this post, I have no idea what the final outcome will be... but I'm very optimistic.

More to come...