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Regarding my ultra-low (almost no) budget indie project, The Eternal Dance…

Checked the UPS tracking page. Last weekend’s film (fight scene) has arrived in New York for processing. I hope I skewed the light meter scale after the shoot and not before.

Checked for an email response from David. The hard drive arrived at Whip Records and the dialogue session has been transferred. What? I only needed 60 GB? Why on earth did I buy a 300 GB drive? Like I can afford to blow dough! I wonder how many piano songs I would have to compose to fill up a 300 GB hard drive? I would hate to have all that storage space sitting idly by.

Got an email from Vincent. Seems he located a Lenny car. A 1964 Plymouth Valiant convertible he sees on his bike route. He tracked down the owner, Karen. What a coincidence. She’s a set decorator. She says we can put the car in the movie for a minute or two. Cool. Thanks Karen!!!

And of course Vincent has a great idea for one of his scenes. If we work it out you’ll see it in the film.

It occurred to me today that it is not only a lot of work to make a movie, but it is probably just as much work to make a bad film as a good one.

Another thing I have learned. After about ten weekends of driving ten hours round trip to San Francisco….why didn’t I make a film here in Delano? I spend more time and money driving than I do on film and filming. What was I thinking?

Oh yes, I remember. The story takes place in San Francisco and that’s also where my cast lives.

I figured out recently that I spent around 700 hours writing the script. Roughly 5 hours a page. Embarrassing to be so slow, but what can I do? I write how I write. At least I finished the script.

Finishing the actual film will be the real test. Reminds me of when I built an airplane. It’s simple really. All you have to do is ten thousand small tasks in the proper order and you have a plane. Same thing with a movie…. except the blueprint (script) is much less exacting and mathematical. But the ten thousand small tasks idea is the same. Boy I sure am learning a lot. It’s a marathon.

I’m now taking a break for Thanksgiving and to have a new baby in our house. It’s nice to look forward to no driving this weekend. And it gives me time to catch my breath, plan the next shoot, and fix my camera power supply. Besides, my cast is unavailable for several weeks. So it works out for everyone.

Max suggested that I explain my choices for film and camera. I am shooting on black and white because I love black and white. And it’s cheaper. I am shooting on a 16mm Arriflex 16S because it is an absolutely fantastic camera. And I also didn’t think I could get anyone to act in my movie if I was shooting on 8mm home movie stuff. I am shooting at various very low frame rates because I really am trying to achieve a gritty, grainy, sometimes-blurry, rough edged street look. And it also happens to be cheaper, but that’s not the main thing. I really like the results so far….just what I had hoped for.

My movie is about an idea; it is in trying to save others that we just might save ourselves. The story derives from an experience I had many years ago when I stopped to help a woman in trouble.

I can’t thank my cast and various crew enough for their talent and graciousness. I am having fun doing this project. They are teaching me. Hang in there with me. We’re getting close!!!

Enough for now.

Carlos Casas

3 Responses to “Regarding my ultra-low (almost no) budget indie project, The Eternal Dance…”

  1. Jon Says:

    Hey Carlos,

    This is Jon, I’m a filmmaker friend of Ben’s. I’d be glad to help out as crew if you’re up here shooting on a Saturday sometime, just let me know. Also, I was told that a lot of time is being spent on loading the film. Are you working with 100′ reels only? You could look into getting a 400′ magazing for your Arri S camera. Loading’s a breeze with it, plus with a 400′ roll you’ll spend less time in the dark bag.

    Good luck! And let me know if you need any help 🙂


  2. Carlos Says:

    Thanks for the offer of help, Jon. I’ve heard a lot of nice things about you and as soon as we shoot on a Saturday Ben will let you know.

    I have a 400 ft mag for the arri. I intentionally shoot with 100 ft internal rolls in order to keep the camera as small and unobtrusive as possible. This film is essentially street-photography. The actors know what is going on, but most others on the street are part of the set by going about their normal activities. If I have lights and a big crew and big equipment the cost of the film rises exponentially as I will then require big sets and extras and officers and permits up the wazoo. Whereas by keeping the film street-photography style my biggest expenditure so far is gasoline to drive to and from San Francisco. If I could shoot this movie on my 8mm cameras and 25 foot loads I would do that. But I think my cast would then not believe this is a real film. As it is I hardly believe it myself. But the Arriflex with internal loads is about the biggest I want to go. It’s a compromise. A little camera is the only requirement to make a film so that’s it. And sometimes a sound recorder.

    And….Ben and Lela have this idea that they stand around doing nothing for inordinate amounts of time while I load the film. If they ever get to be on a big set THEN they’ll see what standing around doing nothing is like. I shoot eleven minutes between loading. I load for five or ten minutes and only do it two or three times per filming day. I’ll tell you the BIG time killer; driving. I drive ten hours for every five or six hours of moivie making.

    Thanks for wiriting and I hope to meet you.


  3. Jon Says:

    That makes complete sense, the Arri alone is very inobtrusive by itself…I can see how adding the enormous 400′ mag would probably call to much attention to itself, and you’d get a lot more street people STARING directly into the lens, ha ha

    The Arri S is a very nice camera though, I was under the impression before that you were working with a Bolex, which is even more inconspicuous.

    Again, good luck! And don’t hesitate to call me up for some free crew 🙂


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