Levi Agee’s Rapture Us production diary

November 22, 2012

Our man Levi is making a film. No word yet on our featured cameo.

By Levi Agee

EXT. Cemetery Day 1-

It’s Saturday morning at 5am and I’m sleeping in our spare bedroom on the floor, soon to be our nursery, covered in makeup from the night before via Les Galusha. “I want to look dead not “zombie” dead,” I told him and nearly an hour or so later my lips are cracked, skin is pale and bruised, veins emanating from my neck. I can’t turn over on my side or I’ll get makeup all over the floor, luckily my wife found an old brown pillow that could use a little splotch of deep burgundy from Les’ “dead wheel.” Makeup is a big part of this shoot and I knew from our first go around during our teaser with one of our makeup artist Stormy Marie that it takes a lot of time to get it right. It also takes a lot of shifts. Sadly the schedule did not allow Stormy to be on set our first weekend as she planned on celebrating an anniversary with her husband. As a indie filmmaker, keeping your SO (significant other) happy should always be a priority before beginning a ’round the clock marathon movie making session.

Our first location is a cemetery outside of Little Rock that one of producers Todd Dillard found and luckily being at the location so early and it being so cold, around 38 degrees, we didn’t have to worry about too many lookie-loos. Good thing I wrote my character is getting a nice puffy jacket in the script–oh shit that’s tomorrow!! Oh well, duty calls. In addition to the remote control helicopter from The Shot Above flying a hundred feet above our head, a crew of no less than 16 people, I have to map out the shot with our DP Bryan Stafford and his camera department and block the scene where my character leaves our lead character Toby, played by Quinn Gasaway in the car to have a conversation with a grave. Sounds weird right? It’s difficult sitting in the car taking cues from my assistant director, Timothy Lucas, without being able to see a monitor of the shot. This is one of the drawbacks of acting and directing. I have to be in character but I also have to be able to shut it off and play technical director or acting coach and business partner. It can be overwhelming but it’s my habit to take on as many roles as possible.

Tim’s voice crackles through my iPhone hidden in the dashboard. Quinn and I can barely make out what he’s saying. “Did he say go?” “It sounded like go. Let’s just drive.” As we make our way through the cemetery driveway, a quarter mile away from the crew and video village (the monitor that let’s us see the video we’re shooting), we can only act out the scene and hope the heli-cam catches the car driving under the trees at the exact right time. Once we park the car by the gravesite I get out like we rehearsed and walk toward the grave and I can hear the whirr of the helicopter blades a mere twenty feet above my head. Once I’m out of the shot I yell cut or maybe it was Tim that yelled cut. Our sunrise is moving quick so we decide to do a few more takes of the drive up before I assess any of the footage for playback. Once we get about three drives I decide it’s time to check the footage. Through the windshield of the car I can see the crew is having a good time watching the monitor, now it’s our time to see what we’ve done. I ask Tim Treischmann if I can watch playback as he’s charging batteries for the copter. It gets about four minutes per charge so the flight times are very short. He obliges and I watch the footage on the 7-inch wireless monitor and it’s magical. I’m getting chills. Seeing my vision in real life as pixels in the exact way I had imagined it really hits home. The camera hovering above the trees shielding the dead from a god’s-eye-view, it’s exactly what I imagined. But there’s no time to sit in awe, daylight is precious and our behind-the-scenes director Cody Riggan will have the moments captured for prosperity, reflection. Right now I have to question why i’m the only living dead in a cemetery. Maybe there’s time to grab one of the last remaining twinkles in the world from crafty.

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