I researched the process of shooting inside a car. What are the challenges? What are the complications? How can I keep this thing organized? I decided it would be best to storyboard. I briefly hired a storyboard artist, someone with very little experience in creating storyboards, yet my lack of good direction nearly scared her away. I needed to do this myself. Early on in my career, I had a knack for outsourcing almost everything I could in order to focus on directing (or editing, or whatever major creative role I was playing in a project). In Jacked, I was having so much trouble describing what I wanted that it only seemed best to create my own storyboards. I’m in no way an artist, and I met with Kyle Hardesty to show him what I had drawn.
Kyle: “So, we’re shooting in an airplane? Why does the pilot have a mohawk?”
During this time, I was also casting for the film. A good friend from school recommended Nathan Danforth, and Nathan suggested Andrew Roach to play opposite him. The two were working as valet guys at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood at the time, and said we’d be clear to shoot in its underground parking garage.
We weren’t one take in before security came and busted us. This was the first moment where I felt I truly failed. Where I felt this project was impossible. The cast and crew patted me on the back and suggested we head to Sardo’s in Burbank to get sloshed. It’s one thing to get shutdown on a gig with a budget, but when people are working for free and selling favors, it’s a heartbreak.
I had to do this. The script was easy – one location, five actors, two cameras. How hard could this be? Why did I fall asleep in producing class during the location permit lecture? I could do this. I just need a location…
One of the supporting actors in the film happened to teach 3rd graders at an elementary school in Beverly Hills. He spoke with the principal, and as long as I were to donate a few hundred bucks to the school, I could shoot in the parking garage on a Sunday. That’s one day to shoot. Eight hours. It can be done. Once again, I have time to prepare.
I scoured the internet for a way to create legible storyboard panels. I came across a few programs, but Frame Forge happened to be the right fit for me. It allowed me to create my own shots in 3D space using props, settings, and directions. I was even able to adjust the focal length of the camera, and change the expressions on the faces of the actor props. I’m an avid player of The Sims, so this was quite easy to pick up.
Ultimately, I consider this project an accomplishment. It was a failed attempt brought back to life with an inspirational group of talent and a remarkable crew. Looking back, it’s a blessing I was shut down for the fact that I wouldn’t have had proper storyboards and extra rehearsal time. You also learn a lot from your previous works; my first film was ridden with tons of problems and casting issues as a result of poor pre-production. When you keep things simple and plan them correctly, you wont have a microwave oven go off during a shot or have only four extras show up to a party scene. The $500 budget for Jacked was also used for minor equipment rentals, extension cables, and lots of Red Vines.