A BENJAMIN J HECKENDORN FILM
Here's the basic visual timeline of the production of Port Washington, followed by Ben Heckendorn's more detailed log entries as the project progressed.
Ben Heckendorn's Port Washington Production Log
Unedited from original form, however some important items highlighted, and some photos added.
After a massive year's delay, the music and the movie are done. Yee-haw, we did it! Time for a beer!
We get the
final bits of looping dialog and I finish all remaining sound effects
work. The movie is done except for the musical score.
Music for PW is now underway... Should be done by the end of April I'm told. All that leaves is the last person to finish their looping, then IT IS DONE. (that'll be the headline on the www.benheck.com main page, in as large font as I can find)
Well, everything is shot, edited and in place. All of the ambient audio/sound FX is/are in place. I sent the discs out to the person who's offered to do the music. So now I wait.
There IS some more looping I need to have done... if I can get the person to do it that is! Other than that, there's not much more I can do at this point... but wait.
Now that my book is done I can get back to working on PW. I thought I would have enough time to do both these last 5 months... I was wrong!
Anyway, right now I'm doing the audio work. That is, making sure the [auditory] transitions between scenes are smooth, making the looping sound like it's the actual dialog (with reverb and other effects) and of course adding sound FX. There's been some in place all along, since the editing started, but at this point I'm making sure EVERYTHING is in place.
As of 12/10/04 the audio is 66% in place. I've got a third of the movie (30 minutes) to go. It should be easier than the middle 30 minutes however.
May 22nd, 2004
The proposed date of the wrap party! Astoundingly, we're going to Wisconsin Dells for an all-day drinking-and-karaoke-a-thon!. Hopefully it'll be fun with minimal mishaps or run-ins with the Law. But who can say...
The movie isn't official, *technically*
wrapped yet, but all 4 main characters are done filming, looping and
photographing so we're having a party, darn it!
February - May, 2004
During this period of time, we're doing the looping. Looping is when the audio you recorded on the day isn't good enough for the final movie. Considering how much stuff we filmed in public (read: noisy) places, this is a problem. About 70% of the movie will be looped.
Looping is done in a sound booth I built out of leftover set pieces and foam from a flooring store's dumpster (the smell went away after a few weeks) Apparently Michelle was allergic to the mold or something and coughed a lot, but oh well, she's done looping so who cares!
The victims, I mean, people looping sit in the booth watching a TV and wearing headphones. The TV plays the movie and they can hear it over the headphones. A microphone is in the room to pick up the dialog as they re-speak it...
...the microphone then leads through a camcorder which levels it, then goes out to the sound card in my looping computer, the MGDp. Then I control the movie playback, direct them how to loop it, what to change etc, and record all the fresh new dialog onto the computer. After each session, I burn a disc and take it back for editing on my main computer.
Also I have started on the final sound mix. This includes not only editing in the newly looped dialog, but also putting in ambience and sound FX. This process will extend past the end of the looping and probably into the summer... After getting a few scenes completely mixed I really like the results and would like every scene to have the same level of audio quality (cause they say it's 50% of the movie-going experience)
September 2003 - January 2004
Ok, enough goofing around. It's time to get back to work!
PW was going to begin with a "bar montage", where we see the 3 main guys going out and hitting the bars, meeting women, having wacky adventures, etc. This was the only scene/sequence of the movie that we did not film in the summer or fall of 2002. It was pretty clear that having a 10 minute long montage taking place in several bars with multiple women was going to be more than we had time to arrange/film, so I looked at the bar montage and thought "What critical points/information needs to be delivered in the beginning of the movie?" I narrowed it down to simple stuff like character's names, who is who's roommate, jobs, etc. This was then condensed into one bar scene with one girl.
On October 5th, 2003 we filmed this bar scene. Having only one bar scene doesn't express the feeling of tedium and restlessness I originally wanted, but at least it has been filmed!
The rest of this time period has been spent finishing some of the "widow maker" effects. The really difficult ones, mostly near the end of the movie. Most every special FX shot that I am going to need I have done. The total ended up being about 220 FX shots, 30 over my original estimate.
June - August, 2003
By June of 2003 I have been working on Port Washington for the last 17 months straight, plus my full-time job and occasional portable building. Therefore, I am taking a summer-long break from the movie so I can build some new style VCSp's and have some free time.
January - May, 2003
With the majority of editing done, I have been doing the FX work. As storyboarded Port Washington was going to have about 190 special effects shots. Which is actually quite a few for an independent film. As editing progressed, new special FX shots were needed for certain things such as de-syncing action, adding things in the background, new establishment shots and other various nuisances.
December 29th, 2002
At this point, pretty much everything we have filmed is edited, at least in rough form. From this, I have estimated the total film length (excluding end credits) will be in the area of 1 hour and 30-40 minutes, which is pretty much where you wanna be for a comedy. Typically, the rule of thumb is 1 minute of film time for each page of script. Our script is 139 pages long, however, I tend to 'over-detail' the script so my films are usually 45 seconds per page of script. Also, the film is designed to move very fast. A scene only starts when the pertinent information begins, and it ends as soon as said information has been conveyed. We did this as much as possible in the script, even more so in the storyboards, and then, even when editing, you can still see where lines can be omitted and scenes ended faster. By omitting a line at the end of a scene and getting the new scene started that much faster, you can increase the speed and improve the flow of a movie.
December 28th, 2002
Met with Dale and Jones to discuss the last filming obstacle to overcome, that being the bar scenes at the beginning of the film. Originally we were gonna film these first, but they just kept getting pushed back. Therefore, this movie is truly being filmed almost backwards.
Spent most of December just editing the movie. Did a few insert shots here and there.
November 24th, 2002
Filmed some greenscreen shots of people in a car, this is the classic time when the lights in the building went out and made a "splorg-ish!" noise which everyone found hilarious except for me since we needed light to finish the scene! The breakers weren't tripped but the light weren't coming back on. Therefore, I decided to use fate and Murphy's Law to my advantage. I knew if I began to set up a secondary lighting system, the main lights would come back on at the very second I was done. So, I did, and sure enough, they came back on. We finished that scene and went to Madison to film some stuff. On this day we "wrapped" shooting of Michelle, except for the wedding scene of course.
November 9th, 2002
After a number of months, went back to Port Washington and got a few pick-up shots of the marina area that I decided I wanted after doing a rough edit of Act 3. We then went down to Milwaukee and got a number of shots of the downtown area. We then - gasp! - went out drinking!
October 13th, 2002
Finished filming cookie scene. Attempted to film wedding scene but did not accomplish it. Decided to push it back since it didn't matter if people looked a little different seeings as it occurs 2 years later in the movie.
September 29th, 2002
Recorded smoke pots at night for effects work.
September 28th, 2002
Filmed more forgotten (well, not forgotten, but "not as important") shots in main character's living room.
September 23rd, 2002
Filmed tracking shots under a table complete with fake legs of "patrons"
September 22nd, 2002
Did close-up shots of window screws being unscrewed using a small re-built portion of wall and the camera at a 90 degree angle.
During this time, I began to edit the film in earnest, since the majority of the filming had been completed.
September 14th, 2002
Went back to the White House Lodge for I think the 3rd time to film more shots we didn't get in our original July 27th visit. Including a character under the table, the hostess, a guy getting food and "stunt butt".
September 7th, 2002
Filmed night scenes of main character's car driving around, being followed, parking and having vomit spew out the back door.
August 31st, 2002
Bought a car radio for the close-ups of Derek pushing buttons, inserting CDs, etc. Went to Madison and shot background plates of the beltline to be used with bluescreen car footage. We then used a mock-up section of car dash with the aforementioned radio installed in it for the close up shots of the radio. Naturally, once we confirmed the shots were OK I returned the radio to the store.
August 24th, 2002
Quite a long day of shooting. We started in the morning filming in the lighthouse interior set, then went to where I work and filmed a bunch of bluescreen stuff for about four hours. We then filmed a scene day-for-night of the two main characters walking down the road. Once night came, we filmed various shots of the two leads driving around and parking and what not.
August 17th, 2002
We didn't film anything this weekend, all we did was build the interior lighthouse set. Since it's meant to look old inside, it contains the radio in Lizard of Death that was "hooked up to the dry cells" and a calendar from November 1975, when the Edmund Fitzgerald sank.
August 11th, 2002
Filmed scenes in main character's kitchen, including most of the "cookie scene" as we came to call it.
August 3rd, 2002
Film interior scenes of a character's desk area. I think this was about the quietest environment we filmed in at any point in the production.
August 2nd, 2002
Filmed scenes exterior of main character's office, headed to Reedsburg to see "Signs" and while we were there, filmed a pick-up shot outside the theatre near a car.
July 28th, 2002
Started filming shots that got rained out the day before. It started raining AGAIN, we headed to Michelle's parent's garage. Got the shots, it stopped raining, we went back outside and finished getting what we needed. I hate weather.
(Note - That was the only time the weather didn't cooperate with us)
July 27th, 2002
Heck-ishly long day of shooting. Filmed another restaurant scene, another apartment scene, and night shooting, again, involving kittens. Got rained out with 1.5 hours of stuff left to film.
Personal note - Upon watching the footage, I realize that on this day, I was the jerkiest of any day filming, by far. My sincerest apologies to all those poor souls who had to suffer my wrath. (However, the footage looks good!)
July 20th, 2002
Effects / set shooting, interior location. Jones climbing a wall. That night, filming Ben and Jones and some kittens.
July 19th, 2002
Evening shooting, interior location. All scenes involving Ben's character's kitchen. 4 hours worth.
July 14th, 2002
Filmed remainder of scenes in gas station. Also did insert shots on the boat (on land) and some bluescreen work.
July 13th, 2002
Filmed all scenes inside of Derek's character's place of work. Then, evening shooting, Ben and Mike walking around, doing things outside an apartment building.
July 12th, 2002
Evening shooting. Scenes with Ben and Jones inside cars. Fake rain effects. Not to hard...
Fourth of July weekend
Only weekend of entire summer that we didn't film anything. Everyone took a break. Went to Dells, drank again...
June 29th, 2002
4 AM: Went back to Port Washington with a different (working!) boat. Filmed remainder of sequence in the marina. Drove back same day. Ug.
June 23rd, 2002
Insanely fast-paced day of shooting. Filmed a restaurant scene from 10-11 AM, something inside the Richland Center cinema 12-2 PM, grocery store scene 2-4 PM, and finally the bowling alley scene 4-6 PM.
June 22nd, 2002
3 PM. Filmed shots taking place at the reception area of the main character's workplace. Had 4 beers before shooting to calm nerves. Headed back to good old Reedsburg to film scenes of someone's apartment. Wrapped at 10:30 PM, went karaoke-ing in Wisconsin Dells.
June 16th, 2002
Filmed some stuff in the gas station location.
June 15th, 2002
9 AM. Arrive at Reedsburg with entourage to film theatre sequence. Scenes in lobby go over-schedule by 1.5 hours. We then head to the projection booth to film that sequence. Ends up being my biggest mis-scheduling of entire production. Estimated 2 hours, ended up taking 8. We finally leave Reedsburg at 7 PM (after drinking some beers in the local bar) Late that night, we film Ben & Jones running around in the woods with guns.
June 14th, 2002
Film shots of Ben walking to flower shop, using remote control.
June 12th, 2002
Scouted location at Reedsburg Star Cinema, prepared camera angles. Didn't have to change storyboards at all!
June 9th, 2002
Early morning. Filmed Ben & Mike in raft floating around. Got shot of Jones walking back out to raft. After getting shot, fell between rocks near the breakwater. Had .005 seconds to decide which was more worth saving, the camera or my elbow. Decided on camera, landed on elbow, kept camera out of the water! Police boat came by at same time, talked to Jones and Paul, while I was stuck. What fun. Ruined cel phone, unable to call Derek and Michelle to see when they were arriving. Went back to hotel to clean wound, met them near elevator. Film all shots of Derek & Michelle walking around Port Washington. Wrapped at 4 PM, ate at Dairy Queen, and called it a day.
June 8th, 2002
Early in the morning, began filming sequence in Port Washington Marina. Immediately had problems with the boat, sand jammed into the cooling ports. Boat is DOA for the day. Filmed any possible shots of Jet Ski from land. Skipped filming insert shots on boat from land in case we used a different boat when we came back. Film Ben/Mike discussing things on dock, and Ben crawling out of Lake Michigan. Drank beer.
June 7th, 2002
Did final load and headed to Port Washington to begin filming.
June 1st, 2002
Film additional greenscreen footage using new full-spectrum bulbs. These shots are cover shots for close-ups during the boat chase sequence.
May 30th, 2002
Worked more on scheduling. On the 30th, filmed bluescreen stuff with a waverunner (on land of course)
May 10th, 2002
Took another trip to Port Washington, filmed the police car driving down the streets. With that, filming officially began.
April 25th, 2002
Went to Port Washington again with Ben K. Filmed background plate shots for some of the effects so I can begin work on them ASAP. Lost my Summerfest 2001 hat in the wind.
April 14th-21st, 2002
Scheduling begins as I try to arrange all the filming dates. The movie will shoot in the summer, from June through August, with the scenes being filmed in order of difficulty to get the hard stuff out of the way as soon as possible. Therefore, the first big shoot will be the end sequence of the movie.
April 1st-13th, 2002
Set design begins, also blue & greenscreen testing. We decide to film the movie using two Sony DCR-VX2000 cameras.
I decide to hand over my fabled Atari 2600 Portables Site to others. People still ask me to make a Dreamcast Portable.
March 30th, 2002
I visit Port Washington and gets lot of footage of the area to refresh my memory and help me plan logistics. The wallpaper of this site came from that trip.
Preproduction stuff begins, budgeting, technology issues, and of course, the actors! During this time, I begin working on the storyboards. I decided early on in the writing process that every shot of the movie would be storyboarded ahead of time. Estimated storyboards - 1200. The end result is that you can literally flip each page of storyboard and 'see' the movie as it would appear edited. I go through a lot of pencils...
February 28th, 2002
Changes are made to the opening bar montage. Mostly in the form of Steve getting all the women and *inadvertently* stealing them from his friends.
The script is 'locked in' and we begin showing it to people.
February 25th, 2002
Mike Adsit, whom you may remember from the May 21st, 2000 entry, goes over the script and makes suggestions, mostly involving character motivations. They are good suggestions and he doesn't even mention giant possums in his notes.
February 23rd, 2002
Dale I and complete the script, with the last holdout being the final battle between me and the lighthouse keeper. We celebrate.
Continued work on the script. Around this time I realized I wrote better when hung over so many Saturday morning writing sessions ensued.
January 26th, 2002
We filmed the SADSACK public service announcement with Dave Frank as "John."
Dale and I begin work on the script. It goes well, almost writing itself. Probably because we already talked about it so much. The main 'goal' of the writing is to connect the 'plot points' of the film that we had decided on so long ago into a complete narrative. Kind of like if you've got a bunch of islands, or ideas, and you have to connect them with bridges.
Of special note, it was not until a couple weeks into writing (or a year and a half after the original idea) that we decided Erica should start the movie with a boyfriend. It makes sense, most women are born with boyfriends anyway. Also, it creates more tension & conflict for Steve, and gives him more reason for trepidation. It also allowed us to make the film even darker, specifically, in the manner which Erica becomes single.
January 1st, 2002
I write one of the first complete sequences, the "SADSACK" video that Steve & Erica will watch in the movie theatre.
A couple of days before we snuck pudding into Lord of the Rings, I asked Dale if he's co-write the PW script with me. He agreed, having heard about the idea for the past year and a half and liking it. We begin work...
I still was building portable game systems, but PW nagged at my mind. During this period, I finalized the characters and did outlines regarding them. Decided to drop the "Greg" character. Originally, Erica was going to go on 3 dates, Steve, Ryan & Greg, Greg being a big geek, but we thought "Why would she go out with him?" and also "Why would Ben & Mike have to SABOTAGE that date if he's a loser?" and "Won't that make the movie too long?" The sequence was gone.
Continued to build & work on Ataris, while continuously working on ideas for Port Washington. I had decided while "Squirrels" would be fun, it'd take a ton of robot squirrel work and not really be character-driven. PW was character-driven, and I decided that was the sort of challenge I needed. This is around the time I came up with the "Kitten Scene" idea...
Built a bunch of portable Atari 2600's... also developed my "Squirrel" movie idea and discuss it at length with Dale. Around this time, I decided my next movie would either be "Squirrels" or "Port Washington"
Spent a good deal of time working on the PW (Port Washington) script. Decided it needs to start with a montage of the main characters going to bars & the like. Wrote the hangover scene.
I finish filming & editing on "Lizard of Death", also created my Portable Atari website. Port Washington files still linger on my hard drive...
June-August of 2000
We filmed "Lizard of Death", my emulation of a 1959 B&W low-budget horror movie. All the while, I continue working on the Port Washington story & characters.
During this time, I decided on the main 'set pieces' for Port Washington. Those being, Steve's first date with Erica, the theatre infiltration, the car running out of gas. Then, Ryan appears, his date with Erica, the aftermath in his trashed-out apartment. Then, of course, the ending in Port Washington.
May 27th, 2000
I begin work on the script outline.
May 21st, 2000
On a trip to Milwaukee, Mike Adsit and I visit Port Washington. During the drive back, we discuss this outrageous idea for a movie inspired by the trip.
I speak the infamous words "Hey, that would be a good idea for a movie"