Cast and Crew Photo at Burritoville by Nadia Khalifa.

Cast and Crew Photo at Burritoville by Nadia Khalifa.

EROTICIDE is officially a wrap and at the end of the day, I think I can safely say this was the greatest experience I ever had making a film, either my own or someone else’s.

There are many reasons why I feel this way, but I suppose they all boil down to one – this was the first time that I felt I was directing a real film.

Now what is a “real film,” you ask?

Well, a real film is working with actors who actually care about the material they’re given, so much so that they’re willing to devote most of their spare time to rehearsing both with me and privately amongst themselves. A real film is having an actual crew comprised of departments and department heads all diligently working towards the common goal of bringing the director’s vision to life. A real film has a budget either self-raised or if you’re really lucky (like I was), bestowed upon you by a generous executive producer who doesn’t care what the script is about, but is investing solely in the fact that he believes in you as an artist and trusts you enough to spend his money wisely.

As a filmmaker, I was fortunately to have all of these things and so much more and for that I will forever be grateful to the cast and crew of EROTICIDE.

One of the reasons why the shoot went so well was because of all the prep work the actors and I did prior to the actual shoot. I can’t stress enough how important it is to rehearse with your actors and block out the scenes in advance, ideally at the actual locations you’ll be shooting. We sat for hours discussing the script, the characters, motivations and so on and as a result discovered new things that were incorporated into the story. We would have never had the time to do this if we simply arrived on set without ever having met beforehand. As a result, there was rarely an instance when we had to do another take because of an actor flub. More often than not, it was a technical issue, something that made me realize that perhaps it’s best to do tech rehearsals beforehand as well on the next shoot.

Me and my lovely cast posing outside of Burritoville.

Me and my lovely cast posing outside of Burritoville.

I am so proud of my amazing cast. These three actors are the finest thespians I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. They are REAL ACTORS through and through as evident by the fact that their initial questions about their roles didn’t concern with how they themselves would look on camera, but rather how far were they going to have to push themselves to bring these characters to life.

Provided he doesn’t do anything silly like join ACTRA, Jocelin Haas, has a job as a leading man at Sinema Saliba for as long as he wants it. This guy is simply wonderful to work with. A gentleman and a gentle man, Jocelin truly gave the performance of a lifetime and put himself on the line both physically and emotionally in a way that I could never even imagine. I can’t wait for you guys to see his Yan.

When it comes to auditions, I often look for a “spark” in an actor. Something that will give me the impression that this person can realistically pull off the role they’re auditioning for. When Stephanie van Rijn came in to read for Elise, she actually managed to make me cry. Needless to say, she had the “spark.” By the end of the actual shoot, that spark turned into the brightest and loudest set of fireworks this side of the 4th of July. There were moments when I had to leave the set because her performance evoked such a profound emotional response that I needed a moment or two to compose myself and wipe the tears from my eyes. Stephanie is a magnificent actress and I can’t thank her enough for being so brave and so wonderful to work with.

And finally there’s Lisa Di Capa. I’ve gone on record as saying Lisa’s my all-time favorite actress to work with and after EROTICIDE, she’s only reinforced that. I wish every actor/actress could take a page out of her book and learn what it is to be a genuine performer who totally and convincingly immerses themselves into a role in the name of art. Then again, if every actor did that, Lisa would cease to be special and I would die a little inside. So I guess it’s a good thing that most actors aren’t that remarkable then as Lisa is and will continue to be my brightest star, my muse and a real inspiration for many years to come.

Me with King-Wei Chu, the official BTS photographer of EROTICIDE.

Me with King-Wei Chu, the official BTS photographer of EROTICIDE.

The shoot itself was a big success. I initially quoted Patrick (my executive producer) a $3,000 budget with a 5-day shooting schedule. But because we were so organized and so efficient with our spending, I managed to bring this film under-budget (we only spent $2,500) AND under-schedule (we shot over 4 days). Not bad for an “auteur” filmmaker, eh? 😉

Some days were more pleasant than others. The first weekend, particularly Day 2 was a rather trying day. Mostly because of the elaborate setups we had planned that day which had us going a little later than scheduled. But in the end, I don’t think people really minded, especially when we watched some of the rushes afterwards.

The final day at Burritoville was the most intense day of all as we had a little over 20 shots planned that day and only had access to the venue for the one day. To give you a better perspective, on average we were shooting 10 shots a day, so we were basically combining a 2-day shoot into one.

Tempers flared from time to time, particularly among certain members of the crew. But I suppose that goes with the territory when you assemble a crew of people who have different backgrounds in film and have very precise ideas of how films ought to be made. Those ideas will inevitably clash with each other.

But in the end, I can’t really complain as for the first time ever, I can honestly say I was able to get virtually everything I needed in this film, without having to compromise a thing. If we needed another take, we shot another take. If we needed to go a little “overtime,” I gave everyone the option to leave if they really wanted to. The fact that nobody did only reminded me of how lucky I was to have a team so devoted to the project that they were willing to miss the last bus of the evening and take a cab home, if it meant spending a little extra time to get a shot or scene right.

Photo by King-Wei Chu.

Photo by King-Wei Chu.

And finally, I must thank my beautiful wife, Andree-Anne who served as the caterer on the film. For some, the prospect of a vegan meal may have seemed less than appetizing. But my wife’s phenomenal culinary skills proved that you don’t need to rely on the suffering of innocent animals to cook delicious and nutritious meals that energize the crew. Pretty much everyone agreed that the food on set was one of the many highlights of working on EROTICIDE.

So that’s pretty much it. If I seem a little vague in terms of what exactly we shot on what day, that’s all on purpose, believe you me. Aside from the pithy few sentences I’ve used to describe the plot, EROTICIDE is very much my EYES WIDE SHUT insofar as I’m keeping mum on any and every detail concerning specifics. This is a film that will need to be experienced on the big screen without any spoilers so don’t expect any on this blog. 😉

The next big step is post-production. I’ll be handling the editing as well as sound design and editing and will likely remain locked in my office over the summer as I aim for a late-September premiere.

I’ll most likely post updates as time goes on, but for now, let the countdown to the World Premiere of EROTICIDE begin! 🙂

#SinemaSaliba2013

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