The Hayley Project: Day 33
Day 33 – Saturday. Finally. The day has come. Last day of our shoot! We started early at 8AM. Our first shot was in front of the famous Bull down in Wall Street. We wanted to beat the tourist rush, but those guys came out early and kept messing with our shots. I contemplated telling them that we had a permit to shoot there and we were shooting Law and Order or something, and that they would have to wait (we only needed a couple of quick shots), but we just worked around them. But it was pretty ridiculous. They kept coming and coming. Anyway, after we got those shots, we had some breakfast and waited for our model/actor to show up for another pickup shot (sorry, guys. The model is a dude). We took that pickup shot with him and my friend Gabe, and we were done with the downtown location.
We hustled up to Astoria, Queens, where Rachel lives. We were shooting our last remaining episode there (the priority of the day). After re-reading the original version of the episode this past week, we felt that it was lacking entertainment value, so we revised the script. I tried to add some comedy in it, even though by the end of the episode, the tone becomes much darker. The previous version had a dark tone throughout the whole episode, and because of that, it felt flat.
Anyway, the episode also required a younger actress than the older woman our first draft had envisioned. So we brought in Michelle, who’s an aspiring actress and the sister of one of my friends. I hadn’t seen Michelle act, so I was little bit nervous, but I was pleasantly surprised with her performance. She did great. As usual, we were up against deadlines. Michelle teaches a Yoga class at 4, but we got it done in time and put her in a cab around 3:30 (she made it). With the last remaining episode done, I felt pretty relieved. It was all downhill from here, and this episode was the priority of the day. All we had left was a couple of pickup shots near my place. As we cleaned up, we saw Rachel’s new headshots (much nicer than her other versions) and also got to see her MTV commercial spot that premiered before The Hills. Good stuff.
Jato and I cabbed it back to my place, had dinner, and around 6:30, Rachel and our other actor showed up. We filmed the last few shots we were missing, and at 8:32PM, we had officially wrapped shoot on The Hayley Project! During our pickup shots, we heard a bunch of fireworks go off, and we realized it was in celebration of the marathon that would be on Sunday. It was only fitting that our film adventure came to an end on the eve of the marathon (which by the way, producer Dave Evans was running in).
Here are some final stats:
- 33 days of shooting
- First shot on June 15th, final shot on November 3rd
- 36 hours of footage
- 37 episodes (about 1 hour of raw footage per episode)
- Between a 20:1 to 12:1 shooting ratio (assuming 3 to 5 minutes per episode)
- Out-of-pocket budget of around $7K (this is DIRT cheap and only represents out-of-pocket expenses; deferred salary, etc and website will increase this number significantly)
- Approximately $200 per episode
- 1,000,000 continuity errors
- 2 Exploding China Balls (nobody got hurt)
- 1 Lost Choker
- 1 Fire
Overall, I had a fun but challenging experience. The actual shooting process is very stressful and the coordination of getting people and props together is incredibly difficult in a low budget production. Much kudos to Paolo and Dave for all their producing efforts. A lot of people had to make sacrifices to make this project work, and I’m hopeful that the sacrifices will pay off. I also realize we were incredibly lucky. We scored a MAJOR location thanks to Paolo and Regis High School. So much of our series was shot at Regis, and quite frankly, I’m not sure where we would have shot had we not had permission to shoot there. We also got extremely lucky with finding a narrow window where all our required actors were available for the final few episodes.
There were times during production where Jato and I would argue about whether we should cut episodes out, and whether we would have to go to contingency plans such as major rewrites. Much credit to Jato who basically said “Fuck that” to any contingency plan of mine, and really helped drive home the fact that we could succeed in finishing “Plan A” without major rewrites. We just had to be patient and extend the timeline of the shoot.
Anyway, in the end, I think this series will absolutely look like a bigger budget production than what we actually spent (around $7K). Granted, this isn’t going to be Prom Queen in terms of production value, but we spent about 7% of what they did. I know viewers don’t care about how much we spend, but it really is an accomplishment to shoot a feature-length series on less than $10K. If the series is moderately successful with the budget we used, we should be able to get sponsored for a second season with a bigger budget. At least, that’s the hope. ‘Til next time…