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“Exit 18”: Pre-Production Phase

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This is part 1 of a 3 part series on the “Exit 18” project…

Project Proposal

Putting a proposal and agreements together was the first order of business. I wanted to keep my options open with what I might do with the film in the end, whether it be festivals, distribution, rights in case the band made it big, etc. so I outlined my terms. I went into the project expecting to find a lot of “life in the music scene, struggling to make it big” moments, but I quickly realized that wasn’t going to be the case. These were 4 down to earth guys, wanting to become something bigger, but struggling more so with the constraints of time, work, and money. So I tried to reflect that in the proposal, describing the tone and scenes, as well as equipment and end deliverables for the project.

The film will unfold in a cinema verite style using documentary scenes, live performances, as well as staged and “on the fly” interviews. A character driven, behind-the-scenes approach will be used to honestly portray the trials and tribulations of an independent rock band trying to “break out” in the music scene, as well as the drama and stress endured by each band member.

The band practiced Friday evenings at Boston College’s chemistry lab, plus the occasional Sunday. They took turns going to a producer/friend’s home to record individual tracks for the 5 songs on their EP. In parallel, Jason Miller, a director/friend was starting to film scenes for a music video. It was slow going for them, purely due to logistics and people’s schedules. Given all this, the initial proposal for what the documentary would cover was:

  • Rehearsal footage of the band practicing
  • Behind the scenes footage of Veneer’s music video production for “Rifle Girl”, including the September 27th, 2009 shoot in North Falmouth
  • Past and present live performances at clubs and bars from the Veneer archive
  • “In the studio” footage of the band recording and mixing songs
  • Interview footage of past and present band members
  • Interview footage of fans – Band members and crew arriving/departing and packing/unpacking equipment
  • Concert attendees arriving at a live performance

Equipment

On the technical side, the project got scary quickly. It was going to be a long term project, so I knew I’d end up with a lot of footage to sort through – much more than I had ever dealt with before – so media management would be important. I also knew I was on the cusp of buying a DSLR, which would be useful for some run-and-gun b-roll footage I expected to grab, as well as any low-light shooting like club concert performances. I worried how complex editing would get with an alphabet soup of media, but quickly decided to just “go for it” and view it as a learning experience – I’d use the HVX for interviews, the DSLR for all other footage, and accept the challenge of sorting out the different camera formats, resolutions, codecs, frame rates, etc. in post.

With this plan in place, I started the shoot, expecting it to take me into early 2010, when their EP was targeted for release.


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