SPOILER WARNING: If you haven't seen 'Nosey,' please watch it first as this blog spoils important plot points from the film.
1. Don't just assume you can get a prop; Get those lined up in advance
In 'Nosey,' one particular prop is central to the plot - a taser. The main character had to be knocked unconscious in order to wake up in the basement. I researched tasers on Amazon and found toy tasers to be pretty cheap (with 'free' two day shipping!). So I assumed this would be no problem.
About a week before the shoot I attempted to order one, only to discover that certain states prohibit shipping tasers by mail - even toy tasers. I tried to find toy tasers in stores and could not. I went to a nearby gun and weapon store to ask if I could purchase one. I was surrounded by hundreds of pistols, rifles, and semi-automatic weapons as the guy behind the counter told me he "couldn't get anyone to supply tasers" (regardless of your political stance, the scene dripped with irony). We tried to fake other items as tasers - toy guns covered in black paint, tools wrapped with electrical tape - nothing seemed to work.
We were eventually able to creatively obtain one for the shoot (I'll withhold the exact details for fear of self-incrimination), but it resulted in completely changing the shooting order and how we displayed certain things on screen.
Moral of the story: get your props in advance, don't procrastinate, and don't just assume you can get them later. Because you never know.
2. Check your audio input level before you start recording
Let's just say you'll thank yourself when all your audio is usable and you don't have to fix or recreate it because of the low input level.
3. Think about the weather
This should be obvious, but I don't just mean whether it's supposed to rain on an exterior shoot day. I think most people are aware enough of that. What I'm discussing is from a bigger picture scheduling standpoint.
We shot the bulk of our film, including most of the exterior shots, in November. There were a couple shots remaining that we didn't get to...and then it snowed. Far too much to match our existing shots. We were very lucky in that a couple weeks later most of the snow had melted and we could fake the shot with some deliberate blocking and staging. However, it could very well have been 4 months before all the snow was gone. And those weeks before the snow melted were quite stressful as we tried to decide if we'd be able to get all the footage we needed.
4. Make sure you have all your sh!t
Review your gear checklist AFTER everything is packed and loaded. Filming 'Nosey,' we had one "company move" on our primary shoot day. While we did set everything aside that needed to go to location #2, one pile of stands didn't make it into the car. It took some creative improvisation with microphone stands and tape to even get things shot at the second location.
5. Think about camera direction and wardrobe/makeup
We rehearsed the long, main basement scene from 'Nosey' the night before we shot. I walked the cast through the blocking, we rehearsed the lines, and we had a pretty good handle on the scene (important since it makes up most of the running time). However, I did NOT advise, or even think to advise our lead actress to put the fake blood on the right side of her face (towards camera) rather than the left side. As a result, it's difficult to see in the final film and may have been lost save for a bit of dialogue.
6. Be careful leaving your cue cards behind
I've joked about this on social media in the past, but if your script makes it look like someone is being tortured, and then you leave the cue card in a family member's basement, she might think her kids are calling out for help. Or someone else is.
7. It's really hard to "market" a cross-genre film
By "market," all I really mean is describe and promote. There are many blog posts, articles, and other resources where people advise you to think about your movie's marketing beforehand, that genre matters, etc. I generally hate to have to think like that because it feels so commercial. But it IS important to consider those things - not necessarily because you want to make money, but just to figure out how to describe your film to your friends and family. If you want people to watch your stuff, you have to be able to describe your stuff.
I didn't want to call 'Nosey' a thriller, because people wouldn't know to stay for the comedy. I also didn't want to call it a comedy because that would give away the turn in the middle. That made (and continues to make) it very difficult to explain the film. I certainly wouldn't change the film, but it was a learning lesson on what hurdles exist when discussing a film without a clear genre tagline.
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