Filmmaker Terry R. Wickham finally started Edit Logging the footage for ABANDONED tonight. Wickham says, “The footage looks sensational and I’m really happy with my actors’ performances. Fun trivia: so far in the first 4 shots, we averaged 5.25 takes per shot with the last take being the best in three shots, while the other one, the second to last take will be what I’ll use.”
During the 90 days between shooting phases of Abandoned Filmmaker Terry R. Wickham was extremely busy on the post-production of Stash and The Devil’s FiveSegments from the feature film Devil’s Five. Wickham says, “During this time we recorded the last couple ADR sessions of dialogue for Stash with Sound Designer Thomas Jackson and I honed on finding the right music composers forThe Devil’s Five and Stash. I found Houssem Turki from Tunisia for The Devil’s Five and Geoff Tyson for Stash in Progue. Plus I was working with Editor Kris Ramsey on polishing The Devil’s Five Final Cut.
I also had to unearth a VFX Artist for Stash. I thought I had the right person in New York City, but they ultimately bowed out forcing me to locate another person, which I eventually did with a VFX Artist in Los Angeles named Martin Bresino.
I also found an excellent Sound Designer for The Devil’s Five located in Los Angeles named Juan Pablo Moreu, who dove right into the film supplying Foley, sound effects, cleaning and mixing the dialogue. In the process of looking for the Sound Designer for TDF, I found Anthony Canchola in Chicago for Abandoned.
We also took advantage of this time to come up with multiple locations as backups for Abandoned in case we had trouble again at the original location, because I told Production Coordinator Jason Paluck we had to finish shooting the next time we all got together.”
Jason Paluck teamed with Production Designer Michelle Rickert and scouted at least three new locations that could substitute in case needed. Paluck actually had more places than that on his radar.
When the film team got back together on Saturday July 23, everyone was back except for the roles of make-up artist and 1st Assistant Camera. Wickham says, “It’s almost impossible to expect a crew to be the same 3 months later because people travel, take vacation and move onto other projects. Thankfully we found more than suitable production members in Make-Up Artist Regina Tune and 1st AC/Steadicam Operator Leftonred Atanycorner to step into those roles and I was relieved that the core crew remained the same.”
This time Wickham and Paluck devised ways for the production members to be as stealth as possible and not draw attention. Wickham says, “Jason and I discussed at length what we could do differently the second phase..
The first thing was we gathered and parked most of the cars off the premises at 8am. Then we ate breakfast there and then car-pooled in together in just two cars. We wanted to start the day at a structure that nobody ever goes. It’s a set of buildings we always planned on shooting the last couple sequences of the movie. The only little thing we had to worry about was Jason noticed that poison ivy had grown up into the walkway into the building. Thankfully he noticed this and we didn’t have a problem. ”
The Director continues, “I had hoped to be there about 3 hours and we ended up there just short of 5 hours. All things considered that wasn’t bad, as I had our Steadicam Operator Leftonred Atanycorner doing some pretty ambitious Steadicam moves.”
The first scene of the day really let Production Designer Michelle Rickert create something ghoulishly spectacular. Wickham expounds, “I think it’s the greatest set-piece Michelle has created so far on any of the films we’ve done together. She knew how important the look of the space had to be in what we called “The Kill Room.” What she did was further tell the story of the antagonists in visual terms and then Adrian’s remarkable lighting to go along with Lefty’s Steadicam work made it all gel together.”
This scene also brought Sound Recordist Patrick Reilly into a new role on the film. The guy who was supposed to play the First Assailant never showed or even called to say he wasn’t coming. So the filmmaker asked Reilly to play the part and he gladly stepped into the role. Wickham says, “Pat has a strong physicality that probably comes from his martial arts training and guitar playing. It wasn’t hard for me to envision him for the part. Listen, sometimes things happen for a reason. Donald Pleasence wasn’t John Carpenter’s first or even second choice for the role of Dr. Loomis in Halloween and we all know how that turned out.”
Then the team filmed the rest of the scenes that followed during the climax of the movie. Wickham says with excitement, “My vision really came to life with everyone doing their part to make it happen.
Director of Photography Adrian Popescu can make so much out of so little. The deserted place we were shooting was in pretty bad shape. Obviously there was no electricity of any kind, but there was jagged pieces of steel sticking up from the floor with parts of ceilings scattered about. Adrian used it all to his advantage with his implementation of some GED lights and his Sony FS-700 Camera’s amazing aptitude to capture images in dark conditions.
I’ve also got to talk about Leftonred
Atanycorner. Lefty put in more than a full day’s work. During the 12-hour shoot, Lefty told me he guesses he operated the Steadicam 8-hours on Saturday July 23rd and that sounds exactly right to me.
When I envisioned the story and wrote the screenplay, I wanted to move the camera a lot. I would even say it’s actually my preference of choice and my directorial style, that had never really been displayed as much as it is in Abandoned. I have tons of gratitude for Lefty really busting his butt to make my vision come to life and for Adrian lighting the sequences and setting up the camera to be able to shoot these longer shots that cover a lot of ground.
This is a perfect example of the incredible team work that happened on Abandoned. I didn’t want a big crew for many reasons. First of all a sizable crew wasn’t conducive to the the location we were filming at and to be honest I had come off two movies with close to 40 to 53 people working on them, so I wanted something more intimate.
When you are directing a movie with a lot of people involved, it’s very easy to lose track of things. There were many instances on The Devil’s Five segment where four people were trying to talk to me at the same time (one in front of me, one behind me tapping me on the back and two people tapping me on each shoulder). Because there are more people to communicate with it takes not only more time but energy. It’s like a big machine that needs to be fed gas and get oiled up to work right. I was yearning for something smaller, where I could really get my vision to the screen without it being watered down by being so spread out.
Without question I absolutely enjoyed those other experiences on the larger crewed films, because I was the one who designed them to have full teams of people behind them. I’m actually quite comfortable leading a full group of people and have been conditioned since I’m the oldest of nine children. I feel very proud of both films and handpicked the folks who I worked on them. But I was very conscious of everything that could separate Abandoned for sake of the movies not feeling the same and it would show my diversity as a filmmaker.”
Look for Wickham’s next detailed blog to continue the story of what took place while Abandoned was photographed on Saturday July 23rd, 2016.
When filmmaker Terry R. Wickham got to the storied location he was having his suspense film shot at, he went about setting his car up for the first shot of the day.
It was to be the introductory shot of the entire movie, a slow slider shot on the car sitting amongst trees. Wickham explains, “I parked my car back on this grassy field, where we could put the camera within the trees to give the movie mood from the get go. Though it wasn’t going to be a spastic-crazy fast camera move, I was kind of thinking of the beginning of Sam Rami’s The Evil Dead. Plus so much of our movie takes place inside a ramshackle long abandoned facility; I thought it wouldn’t hurt seeing beautiful nature for contrast.”
Shortly after Wickham did this a couple folks from the location saw it and informed the filmmaker he couldn’t park on the grass. Wickham asked if he could film on the dirt road nearby and was told if he could do it in 5 minutes. Well anyone who has ever worked on a movie knows, you can’t set up and shoot a scene in 5 minutes.
The director and his team tried, getting the first shot done but as they moved in to photograph the actors within the car, a State cop drove up. Wickham says, “We didn’t have anything to hide and I explained we weren’t hurting anyone or anything by filming there. He asked if we had a permission, we didn’t, so were told to pack it up.”
Determined not to let the day go by without finishing the opening scene of the movie, Wickham asked PA Michael Porciello if there was place nearby that was wooded and vacant, where nobody would bother us. After thinking about it he said there was an abandoned playground a 10-minute drive away. So the film team went there to finish the 2 ½ minute dialogue scene for the movie.
Terry talks about Michael Porciello’s contribution to the film, “I’ve been friends with Mike since he early 90s. Since Mike grew up in the area we were shooting, he had expert knowledge of not just the place we were at, but what was close by. Mike ended up engineering the arrangement with Scott McKinnon @ Main Street Pub for breakfast for both days on the first Phase and later on July 23rd. Plus Mike provided water and dust masks for everyone. The fact he picked breakfast & lunch on April 23, 24 and later breakfast on July 23. makes us all very grateful for him doing that.”
While at the dead end/abandoned playground location, the production had to deal with never ending planes flying overhead and one particular loud bird that landed on a nearby tree branch. Wickham furthers the day, “When 1st AC Giorgio Savona did everything he could to chase that bird away it gave all of us a good laugh. As far as the planes, I guess since it was a beautiful spring day, all sorts of planes took advantage, which made us wait out what felt like never-ending noise.”
Speaking of 1st Assistant Camera Giorgio Savona the filmmaker has nothing but praise, “I really enjoyed working with Giorgio. I think everyone liked his warm personality and can do attitude. He was definitely there to do what he could to help Adrian and it shows on the screen. I’m sure he wanted to finish the movie but he couldn’t because he was filming a documentary in Russia, so we only had him those first two shooting days.”
Make-Up Artist Alexa Branco was a nice addition to the crew. Wickham explains, “She took over for the original make-up artist who couldn’t make the shoot because of having a car accident shortly before the filming began. Alexa has a friendly personality and takes her craft seriously. I really appreciated her coming out, especially on short notice. She was game to play one of the wrongdoers in the movie, but never got the chance when we filming resumed in July because she was on vacation.”
In the end Wickham and his team got the important first scene in the can, but lost the chance to finish the production that day because of being ousted at the locale. The director was determined to set up another date to finish the movie, but little did he know at that moment it would take three whole months for everyone’s schedule to intersect.
Wickham gives his final thoughts on the first Phase of Abandoned, “The situation we went through might of spooked someone on the crew, but but sometimes you have to take little risks to get things done. I never approached the shoot blindly trying to think of every scenario that could happen, with backup plans in place. Anyone who has worked with me should know I always try to look after the cast & crew and make decisions based on their well-being. But the fact is as a director you are always at war with everything trying to stop or compromise the movie. For me, I approach it like the Terminator and will not stop ever, until the film is done to the best of my ability.”