Josh getting up close and personal with Reginald Roundtree.
What madness is this? Another reshoot? Can’t you guys do anything right?
During the editing of Reginald Roundtree’s interview, it became quite obvious that it was no good. The lighting was lame, Shawn kept looking at the script, and even the chair he was in presented problems–it was huge and just looked awkward. A total rush job and it showed.
So, we scheduled a time to reshoot him at Seth’s house after work one day. Shawn had exactly one hour for shooting. I got there last and Seth had already chosen a spot for him. I had brought along my diploma and Shawn had his. The idea was to put these on the wall behind him to make him look more intellectual. I put mine in the same frame that had been holding my autographed photo of Otto. This was actually the first time since I graduated 9 years ago that my diploma was displayed anywhere.
Just the three of us at this shoot.
Cameras set up as Long studies the script for historical and/or grammatical inconsistencies.
“Wait, WHAT?!?! I thought you jokers were finished shooting?”
So cried the millions of expectant fans upon hearing the news that we needed some more shoots.
Let me explain, dear reader. Dan, Seth and I have been editing the hours upon hours of footage we shot over the past few months while I was also working on the movie flow; and we came to a few realizations. Realization 1) some of our early shoots were not great and yielded borderline unusable footage. Realization 2) the story evolved over the course of filming. Realization 3) not everyone is as familiar with Minesweeper as I had assumed (>cough< Seth! >cough<).
You see, this originally started off as a pretty unscripted “documentary” about elite Minesweeper players (known as “Sweepers” in the business). But as we filmed, we started to realize that what was once just a side-story about the mysterious disappearance of Otto was becoming the most compelling story line of the whole thing. So, we started focusing on that, but now we need to add some scenes that fill in various gaps and tie all the stories into the Otto one. Moral of the story: don’t wing the story as you shoot…(I used the word “story” and variations thereof 4 times in that paragraph, for those keeping score.)
David prepared to deliver the speech of his life while everyone else ignores him.
So, it all comes down to this. The final shoot. The VIP party.
Out of all the shoots that caused me grief and stomach ulcers, this was the biggest. Long has a friend who owns Whiskey and he was able to secure the location for us to shoot our final scene. This scene is intended to give the OTP story arc some closure. It was also a late addition to the movie.
You see, it’s quite difficult to write a movie and plot it out when so much of it is ad-libbed. The mysterious disappearance of Otto Tiberius Parker was originally intended as essentially a throw-away side story; but over the course of filming, it has become the main plot line. I had originally planned on just letting this plot line end ambiguously, but after shooting my meeting with Otto and John Speckles’ interview, it became apparent that a new scene was needed.
Me chatting with Ricky, notice my manly armpit sweat. I am nothing, if not a method actor.
This is it, the big scene: I finally meet my hero, Otto Tiberius Parker, after searching for him for years. It’s funny how things work out. Otto was only created because we had the father/son duo of Ricky and Matthew on this film. So, we split them into the same character, just 20 years apart. Now the mystery surrounding Otto has become the central plot device of the movie. Not to blow this movie out of proportion or anything, but Ricky brought a different style to Otto than Matthew did and it really helped advance the character, I think. Young Otto was exasperated and intense in his interview, Older Otto was more laid back and gentler. It worked great, showing how much he has changed over his (spoiler alert!) 20 years as a farmer in southeast Asia.
Nothing says ‘authority’ like a pastor’s throne and an American flag in your office.
So, shooting is winding down. On this Saturday, we had to film John Speckles, founder and president of the International Minesweeper Tournament and Record Keeping Association. He was a close personal friend to OTP and helped found SweeperCon. So lots of backstory in this one.
David is a coworker of mine who likes to make everyone think he’s super tough–he even makes all of us at work refer to him as “Evil David”–but deep down, he’s a big softy. Anyway, after much cajoling, he finally agreed to be in this movie. I sent him his script and he quickly memorized the first 3 or 4 words.
We were trying to find a suitable shooting location, and I had recently come into possession of two pastor’s thrones. I thought that one of these would be the perfect sitting device for the President of the Association, but I had yet to retrieve my thrones from church. I mentioned this to Seth and he said, ‘Why don’t we just shoot at church?” So we did.
Jeff as Shawn Hirsch. Tell me you wouldn’t watch this show.
Sweepers is now my Waterworld.
Shoot six is where we went all Hollywood and blew our budget to heck. This was actually the scene that I was most concerned about. It takes place in 1994 after OTP wins his third consecutive tournament. The scene is an interview between him and a Larry King type of character. Seth and I spent entirely too much time looking at old Larry King interviews so that we could get the vibe. Of course, we do not have the budget to recreate his LED map of the world, but we COULD do the black curtain in the background look.
Therein lay my concerns though: recreating a real interview set on a non-existent budget and getting a host who could convincingly pull of a performance that was instantly recognizable as Larry King-esque. I had been wanting to use a friend of ours, but the timing never quite worked out and Seth recommended Jeff, another friend of ours. Jeff agreed and after an initial scheduling issue (we were going to shoot him the Saturday before, but ended up shooting Shawn/Reginald instead), we set up for a Wednesday evening.
Seth and Shawn discussing Shawn’s motivation.
So, we took quite a bit of time off. It’s hard to be a completely unpaid crew of “film-makers” (using the term loosely) and I had a lot of travel for work and fun. So, first thing to do once getting back was figure out what to shoot.
Seth recruited Shawn to play somebody in the film. So, I checked my list of un-filled positions and decided Shawn could play the current tournament organizer/head referee. However, as the day of filming drew nearer, I realized that the head referee would be an older character, so I made a quick switch out and Shawn is now the author of Otto Biography: The Biography of Otto Tiberius Parker. I quickly wrote a script for him a day or two before he was supposed to be filmed. He didn’t get around to reading it until we started shooting anyway. We are the very definition of a fly-by-night production.