The Element of Being came about because of a University of Utah independent study project. My original intention was to shoot actors against a greenscreen in a variety of lighting environments, and produce an academic document outlining the process. But as I began to move into pre-production I began to explore the theoretical side of process. After two months of exploring different approaches I landed on the idea of shooting film portraits, creating an image of a world rather than a traditional narrative. I went fairly deep into the theoretical approach, and the 'script' became a rather wordy academic document.
In the weeks leading up to production several fortuitous events forced me to scale up the scope of the film considerably. The main one was the opportunity to use the sound stage at Lumenas Studios (an animations company here in town), and most importantly a Motion Control rig. This particular 1/4 million piece of hardware was last used to shoot fight scenes in the Matrix, and Lord of the Rings. With a hell of a discount I couldn't avoid stumping up the 2g's it would take to rent it, the space, and the talented individuals it would take to operate it.
Of course this meant upping the production value of all the other areas of the film. Costumes had to be spot on. Actors had to be unforgettable. Makeup had to make them look gorgeous:) I put out some calls to my most trusted collaborators and in a whirlwind of pre-production got all the ducks in a row... ready to be shot;)
By industry standards this was still a small production: 9 actors, 9 crew members. But the level of skill, dedication and awesomeness kicked hollywood's ass:)
Super props go to Alex Lee (lighting design) and Jeremy Penzien (motion control operator), the two Lumenas kids who gave their talents to the production. These guys gave the piece such a high production value. Allison Baar (costume design) & Cherie Lindhardt (Hair/Makeup) royally saved my ass. They both gave each character such a fantastic look, it was a really blessing to have them on the project.
And of course D Davis and Matt Anderson were there filling in those crucial crucial Grip/Producer roles. Special thanks to Mark Weiler, who facilitated the whole shoot, operated his Red camera, and gave fantastic advice when I wasn't thinking straight;) And finally all the actors who came down and waited patiently while we struggled to keep out schedule.
While the final polished version is far from complete, here's a taste of of how well the greenscreen worked. I still need to build all the environments for the characters from scratch in Maya (a project for next semester), but given the production value of the footage i'm really excited about the film.