Originally posted April 19th, 2013 on Voices From Krypton – the host of our exclusive weekly making-of article series, written by Heather Canik! Check out their website for the most current articles!
Today is the day! The first official promo video for our Green Arrow: Year One feature-length web series went live at midnight and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you guys. In this article, we are going to give you guys a quick look into a couple aspects of this production… but before you read on, be sure to watch the video!
Did you watch it?! Awesome! Our original mission was to shoot a 15 to 30 second spot to throw online and get people excited about the series, but once we started constructing the scene it was pretty obvious that we couldn’t cram all that awesomeness into just a handful of seconds. So, you got a whole freaking minute!
If you have been following our Instagram (@GreenArrowFilm) you probably caught the slew of photos that we posted while finishing the wardrobe and while shooting. Don’t get me wrong, pictures are a great way to connect with our future viewers and we love giving everyone that kind of insight into our process… but they can only do so much. We know what you really want is something to watch, something that showcases our style and gives you an idea as to what kind of film we will be producing. Something truly awesome that you will want to share with your friends (please do share it with them!).
Rewind to about a month ago. We started outlining and prepping to shoot a few scenes straight from our script, but hadn’t set a date because we were still deciding what scenes we would have time to shoot outside of our busy work schedules. On Monday April 1st, though we weren’t ready for the extensive shoot we had been planning, we decided to just get out there and shoot something. What we ended up with is not a scene directly out of our script, but a promo that still pushes the story in the right direction.
Keep in mind that this is meant to showcase some of the ideas we have for the style, wardrobe, music, and color grading aspects of our film, but none of these are finalized. It is still a work in progress, and even now the wardrobe (particularly Ollie’s hood) is being modified from what was seen in the movie. We have a lot left to do on the hood, but we have definitely come a long way from the prototypes we were cutting out of pillow cases!
Future Green Arrow bow!
One thing you may have noticed in our video is the true-to-the-graphic-novel leaf spring that was used for Ollie’s bow. Now anyone who has read Year One probably knew exactly what was up with that, but for those who don’t, while Ollie is stranded on the island he fashions a bow out of a leaf spring he salvages from a burnt down village. It hasn’t been easy incorporating that into our script, and honestly the actual story structure wouldn’t suffer from dropping it out entirely, but we really don’t want to do that. We want to stay true to the Year One roots that Andy Diggle laid down, so we are going to do our best to keep things intact as much as our budget and locations will allow us.
And since are so committed to keeping those key parts intact, that leaf spring is staying put! Back around September 2012, I convinced Nick to go with me to the dump and “real quick pull a leaf spring from a car for our film”. Well, what I thought would only take 30 minutes ended up taking us nearly 5 hours. No, not because of incompetence, but because every little thing that could possibly go wrong did.
We brought some tools with us, but once we finally found the smallest possible leaf spring to pull, we found that the kit we brought was missing the one and only socket that we needed. So, off to the hardware store to pick one up. Once we got back to the dump, we started cranking away at unbolting the parts around it so we could get at the leaf spring. Well, lo and behold the bolts were rusted on and started stripping, so we had to head back to the store and buy a hacksaw to try and cut them off. Two hours had already passed and we finally sawed off the bolts, but not before busting all of our hacksaw blades and having to make a quick run back to the store for more. Then we finally get rid of the bolts, but found that we couldn’t yet pull the leaf spring because some other junk needed to be hammered away (the car we were working on was halfway up a stack of crushed cars, so we had lots of obstacles to clear before we could even reach the back of it). So, again, back to the hardware store to pick up a solid hammer and some things to start busting through to the back of the leaf spring.
The day went on like this – encountering little obstacles we couldn’t possibly see until we had cleared the one before it, but after a couple more trips to the hardware store, we finally liberated our leaf spring (and added a bunch of tools to our arsenal as a result).
Nick holding our ridiculously heavy leaf spring
It felt good to finally finish the task, but once we pulled it from the wreckage and held it in our hands, we realized… This thing weighs a TON. Not a literal ton, but holding the leaf spring outstretched in a bow-like manner for more than a handful of seconds was nearly impossible. At least, not steadily. Gah. We didn’t panic at the time, I mean, it would be a while before we even had to shoot with the thing! Plenty of time to solve the problem, right?
Brandon and AJ setting up the camera rig
Rigged and ready to shoot, then came the rain.
Well, April 1st, 2013 creeped up on us and without an alternative, we had no choice but to use the 30+ pound leaf spring to shoot our film. We had to creatively cut a lot of our film because it was pretty difficult for Nick to hold the bow completely outstretched for very long. Plus, there was no give on that thing. No way to draw the bow and actually shoot the arrow, so we had to cheat that in the final shot (you will see how we did it in an upcoming behind-the-scenes video). Regardless of the problems caused by the leaf spring bow, we think the promo turned out pretty good!
Dan tracking Ollie
Another question that might come up is why we shot on the Canon 60D and not on the 5D Mark III, since that is our primary camera. Well, to be completely honest, by a simple communication error, we forgot it. Brandon and I didn’t realize it was missing until we were a half an hour from town with Nick and Dan in the truck behind us. In my haste to just get out the door and on our way to shoot I made the bad call of skipping the production gear checklist. It was already the afternoon (we had to wait until the afternoon for our camera assistant AJ to get out of school) and in around 4 hours, we would lose the sun. In an effort to save a few precious moments, I suggested we just throw all of our cameras and gear totes in the truck so we would have absolutely everything, then we could go through it on site. Since two of us were loading the gear we each assumed the other grabbed the camera bag, when in fact neither of us had. And by forgetting our 5D Mark III camera bag, we also suffered from not having all of our good lenses that were in the bag with it. All that could have been avoided by a quick look down the checklist.
I was a little hesitant to share this in an article because it really is a rookie mistake, not something professionals should be doing. But, in the long run, I feel that sharing my mistake could potentially help (or scare!) any filmmakers reading this article to avoid it themselves. Seriously, no matter how well you know your gear and think you have everything covered for your shoot, there is no excuse for not taking a minute to run down your production equipment checklist. I rarely skip this step, and only did because I assumed “grabbing everything” would be a catch-all, but you have to be extra mindful of these things when you are involving other people in your project. Especially on indie films like this where, let’s face it, everyone is working for free (and is using their own money to fuel their vehicles and get to where you need them to be). If you want to be taken seriously and be able to count on people’s continual support, you have to do everything you can to make sure your production goes off without a hitch, every time.
Brandon and AJ set up the slider for a beach shot
Brandon shooting the opening shot
Regardless of the fact that the 60D had to sub in for the 5D Mark III, our shoot went great. Sure, the bow caused a good bunch of problems but we quickly found solutions for the each one as they came up. Everyone was quick on their feet and worked together to film this thing as efficiently as possible, and all in all it went better than I had expected! The main goal of our promo was simple: give you guys an idea of what we can accomplish in just a handful of hours, and to give you a basic look at what our film is going to be about. I think we did just that!
Brandon and Heather filming Dan’s walk through the woods
As you guys may know, we don’t have an insanely huge following. YET. But, we do have a pretty solid web presence (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, website…). All good stuff, but jump over to YouTube and search “Green Arrow” and we just aren’t there. Search “Green Arrow movie”, same deal. Search “Green Arrow web series” and one of our silly little BTS GoPro shorts is the second result, which is a good thing but really doesn’t offer much substance (I mean we are literally filming background plates and throwing sticks for our dogs to fetch. Not so insightful!). At this point in the game, we not only want people to search for Green Arrow and see our promo right there at the top, but we need them to! We need to spread the word so that come Kickstarter time we have enough people believing in us (and this super ambitious project) to really pull in the rest of the funding we need to make this thing as kick ass as possible.
Oliver Queen on the beach
The great thing about our film is that it isn’t just for superhero and comic book fans, but also fans of action and survival films! That’s just another reason why we are so excited to make this – it is going to appeal to a huge audience! That said… please, PLEASE share this video with your friends. Share it all over the place; Facebook, Twitter, wherever! If you liked it, please let us know! Leave a comment on the video and send us a message!
We know that what we are creating is going to be great, but our biggest hurdle is getting the word out so that people know this project exists. Spread the word and help us make this movie the absolute best it can be! And thank you guys in advance; you’ve been very supportive and enthusiastic during our early stages of pre-production and we can’t thank you enough for your confidence in us! You guys rock!
Visit GreenArrowYearOne.com for up to date information!
If you are interested in coming on as cast or crew, donating to the film, or just getting up to date information you can visit GreenArrowYearOne.com
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Details on Sea Monster Entertainment and its crew also available at HeatherDisco.com and SeaMonsterEntertainment.com