The ten days of principal shooting for TEN: an overview

TEN: Gettin' Piggy With It
Photo by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

TEN the movie Principal Photography 

Overview
Now that I am finally just beginning to recover from principal photography for TEN, I finally have the time and the focus to present a recap of each of the days of filming. I will be posting ten blog posts over the next ten days covering the production experience, but I thought I might share an overview here first.

We worked extremely hard and did manage to finish every major shot in principal photography. So, if you were one of the 500 or so people who told us it would not be possible to make a feature in 10 days, you were not correct. How did we do it? We had an amazing cast and crew who put making this movie as their top priority for 16-20 hours a day for 10 days. This is a tremendous thing to ask from someone and we are eternally grateful to everyone for pitching in every bit of energy they had. Many of us averaged around 3 hours of sleep a night for the entire shoot, but despite a few hallucinations, we kept it together.

Final Production Budget

Many people have asked about the budget, so I thought that I’d be transparent and tell you what we spent. This does not include any deferred payments or costs outside of what was spent during production.

Cast/Crew/Location – $14,500.00 (in order to protect information a little bit here, I’ve grouped these.)
Gear  – $4,016.30 (much of this is gear purchased for use in the movie that will be usable again for future productions)
Consumables – $1,711.51 (building materials, crafting materials, batteries, etc.)
Props – $2,136.95 (items that appear in the film)
Wardrobe  – $1,035.64 (clothing worn by cast in the film)
Food – $1,371.52 (we had some food donated, but still spent almost $100/person for food during the shoot)
Insurance – $1,248.00 (covering the location, gear, and general liability)
Transportation – $100.00 (gas)
Marketing – $593.49 (mostly mailing postcards to Kickstarter backers and others)
Total Production Budget: $26,713.41

Kickstarter / fundraising income (after fees): $11,107.58 / Expected Kickstarter fulfillment costs: $1000

(Where did the rest of the money come from? We had been saving money for two years to install solar panels and decided to use the money for this instead.)
Even though I am doing most of the post work myself, I expect additional post work and festival submissions to run us another $3-$4000. If (big if) we get into a major festival, we will need to sink money into publicity to ensure that we are best positioned to sell the movie. We’ll need to come up with another $10-$20,000 to do this, but we’ll worry about that when the time comes. If the movie does sell, providing deliverable goods could easily cost a whole lot more too. In the end, it will be hard to deliver something sold from start to finish for under $50,000 (not that we have the money to do this, but we’ll figure it out if we need to). 
Crew

We had an extremely small crew (7 dedicated people including me) for a job that really could have used a crew three times the size. We made some sacrifices to full record keeping / slating to make sure we got the job done, but we made no compromise to the ultimate final quality (this just expanded the amount of work I need to do in post). You’ll notice that everyone went well above and beyond their nominal roles in this production. Everyone was versatile and ready to lend a hand whenever they were needed.

Sophia Cacciola coordinated the whole process. She produced, overseeing finances, wardrobe, props, art design, and she even headed up craft services, making sure that we not only ate, but ate well! Sophia also had a role in the film.

Kelly Davidson Savage shot the entire thing herself (on a 5D MKIII). I think she was behind the camera about 16 hours a day and even after hours of challenges and full days of hard work, she ensured that every single shot came off the best that it possibly could. She helped coordinate lighting, blocking, and just about everything related to the frame that we needed to make this film happen.

Joel Edinberg handled LONG days of recording sound. He did almost all of the boom work too. It was quite a massive task for one person and he was patient and endured many arm pains to make it happen. He also made a fine dance remix of the religious fanatic’s speech about which animals thou art permitted to eat. Keep your ears open for that!

David Joseph Clarke helped plan the schedule, keep things moving smoothly and pick up whatever we needed at the moment, whether it was handling script, slating, behind-the-scenes shooting, or helping to coordinate the tremendous cleanup project at the end of the shoot. We might still be in Rhode Island picking up otherwise!
 
Pearl Lung handled make-up for the cast, helped tremendously with continuity (taking lots of continuity photos and pointing out issues), and picked up helping with planning, scheduling, organizing, and art design (we had no formal art department!) in order to help make sure the whole thing got done. Pearl was always around (and awake!), ready to jump in and help with whatever we were short on for the moment.

Danielle Myers, officially the gaffer/electrical, helped ensure that we had power where and when we needed it. I am insanely proud to say that even in a house with normal 200A electrical service with 15A breakers (no generator was used on the shoot), even when we needed as much as 4000W of power at a time, we did not flip a single breaker during the entire principal location shoot. This is quite an accomplishment. Danielle also helped with art, slating, and just about anything else you can think of.

Catherine Capozzi was the greatest general PA a film could have. She did store runs for us every day. She brought us food and drinks so we could keep moving. She slated. She provided moral support and counseling for us all as we struggled with the pressures of the long hours and challenging production moments. Her role was general, but I can’t even express how valuable she was in holding the whole thing together. I am pretty sure that we would have all collapsed and given up by day 3 if not for her contributions.

Rachel Leah Blumenthal was not involved so much as crew in production, but she led the effort to do all of the documentation, behind-the-scenes photography, interviews, Kickstarter reward documentation, and other things that needed to be done simultaneous to production. You can thank Rachel for every bit of insight you got into our process and our minds during that process. This would not have been possible without Rachel’s work and you’ll be seeing a whole lot more of it over the coming weeks.

Cast

Rather than a breakdown here, I’ll cover each of the cast members as I go through the amazing performances each day. I’ll highlight each of their shining moments and features within the ensemble film.

The TEN days of shooting:
Overview
Day 1, December 4, 2012 – Wingaersheek Beach – Gloucester, MA
Day 2, December 6, 2012 – Beach Mansion – Barrington, RI
Day 3, December 7, 2012 – Beach Mansion – Barrington, RI
Day 4, December 8, 2012 – Beach Mansion – Barrington, RI
Day 5, December 9, 2012 – Beach Mansion – Barrington, RI
Day 6, December 10, 2012 – Beach Mansion – Barrington, RI
Day 7, December 11, 2012 – Beach Mansion – Barrington, RI
Day 8, December 12, 2012 – Beach Mansion – Barrington, RI
Day 9, December 13, 2012 – Beach Mansion – Barrington, RI
Day 10, December 14, 2012 – The Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library – Somerville, MA
Extra Inserts/Pickups Day, March 3, 2013 – Sophia Cacciola’s House of Wax – Somerville, MA