The Ice Cream Man Shoot

So how did the shoot go on the 16th? I know many of you are wondering that as it has been three days since I have checked in proper with a hefty article.

Obviously the third draft of my fantasy novel is completed, and has been taking a much needed rest for the last week. Though the ideas seem to be coming in pretty quickly, to truly look at the manuscript with fresh eyes, both of us need a break.

In the meantime I have been keeping busy with other projects. The first of which was a little joke called The Ice Cream Man.

The Ice Cream Man was a short script of mine in the spirit of the fake trailers found in the film Grindhouse, for movies like Don’t, Thanksgiving, Machete, Werewolf Women of the SS and Hobo with a Shotgun, two of which were actually made into films.

After a friend of mine was nearly carjacked while delivering frozen yogurt, the idea for the story came, a kind of parody of Dirty Harry, only instead of a cop, our hero is an ice cream cart driver.

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The story behind the fake trailer is about as cliched as you can get. A Vietnam vet and his friend come home from the war and try to leave their demons behind them. They take up selling ice cream and sherbet. When the lead’s cart is stolen by a drug lord, the two go out and search for it, resulting in the hero’s friend getting killed.

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From then on, the Ice Cream Man goes on the warpath, becoming a soldier again to take down the drug ring that stole his cart and killed his friend. It was pretty silly, and deliberately so, hitting all the notes from the disgruntled police commissioner to the bad punch lines. All involved had but one commitment, to not take this thing too seriously.

I was looking forward to directing my first short film involving such a large crew and trained actors. I expected it to be a practice run but in the end the short took off. Patrick Kilpatrick of films like The Toxic Avenger and Minority Report was cast as the lead, so now I was expected to direct an actor who had been directed by Steven Spielberg. I couldn’t help but be more than a little intimidated. Instead of wading in a little, I got thrown right into the deep end.

We were able to shoot a few scenes before the big day, such as a reporter getting chase by a mask wearing nut job, Santa Clause getting attacked by a drug dealing lone shark, and a drug dealer getting tortured by the Ice Cream Man via brain freeze.

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That was an easy day of shooting, but on the 16th, we had to get the rest of it done. With a six page long script, the day promised to be a hard one.

Looking for a confidence boost, I decided to wear my Indiana Jones hat, an authentic fur felt recreation of the famous fedora custom fit for my head. With a pair of white shorts and a blue button up shirt, I made the unlikely transformation to douche bag director.

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Isn’t that the face you just want to punch? Just what a director needs to be.

Okay I kid.

We began the shoot at 11:30 am. We dressed the set and waited for our actors to arrive. From then on, everything went pretty smoothly. Here are a few more highlights of the film.

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We were able to wrap the shoot at around 10:30 pm, which for a film set is very short. Of course there were a few hiccups.

Firstly we shot things on this day that we didn’t need to. For instance, most of the conversations were done via shot/reverse shot. That is the character’s don’t share the frame but their dialogue is spliced together, like this.

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As such, those scenes do not have to be done on the same day. Hell, both actors don’t even need to be present. Had we done that, we would have been able to get done with Kilpatrick and all the other actors we had to bring in much quicker.

These issues with scheduling show an aspect of filmmaking that most forget. Time is your enemy.

This is especially true when you are shooting outside. We had a scene in a park that was scheduled to be our second to last location for the day. We were supposed to get to this location by 5 pm. However, on a film set, there are multiple takes and shots go longer than expected, so we ended up getting there at 8 instead. The sun was rapidly setting, so we had to plow through the scene, not getting nearly as much coverage as everyone wanted. Now, we did get great footage, footage that we could use, but doesn’t anyone else think that location should have gone first?

Our day went like this. We shot at the producer’s house first, moved on to a private residence, moved to the park, and then returned to the producer’s house in a big circle. What it should have gone like was the park, the residence, then the producer’s house. As the producer’s house was a location that we did not have a time limit with or any restrictions on whatsoever, we could have shot there all night if we needed to, and it would have been fine.

The good news is at the end of the day, everyone left the set in good spirits, but the hiccups we did have could have easily been avoided. As a director, it was my job to prevent such things from happening, but alas I am a very shy and soft spoken person, so when the time came to assert myself, it was something I couldn’t do. Defiantly an aspect of myself that needs a lot of work.

The following day we filmed some pick up shots, and finished it up this this little work of art right here, me as a dead crook getting decorated with a cherry by the Ice Cream Man. I figured a shot of the dead director would be a good way to end things.

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For the last few days, I have been editing the film. It currently stands at a nice four minutes and thirty seconds, two minutes shorter than we had originally thought. To top that off, Patrick Kilpatrick is interested in producing this as a feature, a film similar in spirit to Machete and Black Dynamite. Time will tell if this ends up happening, but the possibility of seeing this little joke short becoming a feature is pretty exciting.

Here is the photo of all of us together after the shoot wrapped. I may have been the shortest one there, but I was still able to get the job done with the help of these great people.

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The 16th of June was my first venture into being an actual director. Can’t say it wasn’t exciting. When the film is done, I will share it gladly with all of you. Hope it makes you laugh.

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