December 27, 2011

Acting with Dan

My close friend Dan Beecher, who played Bottom in this summer's production of Midsummer, wrote and directed a short film!

We shot for one day and after experiencing nearly every hiccup known to film shoots we finally got everything squared away and looking great.

The story follows two girls at a restaurant recounting their experiences with desirable men. We also had the honor of being photographed by my favorite camera crew, thanks Al Vallo and Erin Cole. I'll post the video when it's finished! Until then check out a few pics.

December 14, 2011

Sign Heist and Apple FCP Certification!

Thanks to Apple Trainer and fellow filmmaker Connie Wilkerson, I'm now Final Cut Pro certified! Connie taught an editing class at the University of Utah the past semester and lucky for me her final test is also the Apple Level 1 Certification exam.
From Plugs
To celebrate, and to submit for a final project in the class, I made this short video using as much of my newly acquired FCP knowledge as possible.

My close friends Jeff Black and Stuart Ford play two mastermind hackers on the greatest challenge of their lives. This was shot in 2 hours with me on the camera (Panasonic GH2) and Topher Rasmussen on sound (A boom mounted Rode VideoMic Pro). Special thanks to Keir Schmidt for the soundtrack.

November 16, 2011

Penny Dreadful

I have become well traveled.

For the past week I've been working as a production assistant on a short film, produced as part of the Columbia University MFA program. The director, Shane Atkinson, flew himself, his producer, several actors and a Red One from NYC to Utah where he called on favors from his friends and local crew members.

Some of Utah's best crew helped out with this one. I've never seen people so immersed in the film business from this state but apparently they exist. That's refreshing to know!

The shoot did involve a lot of long distance travel. Let's review...

The first day we were in Genola UT, about 10 miles west of Santaquin. There are a few barns and a few orchards but most of the local economy comes from a rock quarry. Several parts of the quarry are still operational but older buildings are no longer in use but still standing. Immediately as I arrived I was struck with the industrial nature of the building. Being inside with the strange noises and snow out the windows was like living inside Penumbra. Utilitarian showers, big dirty sinks, derelict offices and dormant mining equipment were everywhere. As if I hadn't been scared enough with the "green room" that had been set up, Jake the A.D. asked if I wouldn't mind searching through 3 different rubble processing towers for a suitable camera position. After climbing up 2 different rubble chutes (pictured, you can't tell but that's slanted 45-degrees toward the ground) I finally made it to the top of the highest tower where I startled a Snowy Owl that took flight out the window. That was scary!

After that day I figured our locations couldn't get much more remote but I was very wrong. The next day we were in Goshen UT, which is about 20 miles west of Genola. It's a small ranch town with beautiful scenery and no cell phone reception. The only bathroom near our shooting location was half a mile down a dirt road and although it was very cold in the morning, the sun came out and warmed it up a lot which would have been a good thing if I wasn't wearing 3 pairs of pants and 2 coats. We filmed the whole day inside a 1992 Buick that I got to drive from the dealership and the day also featured some special blood effects. I wish I had pictures but you'll just have to see the film! After seeing what a thriving metropolis Payson, UT is after being in Goshen I thought to myself that we couldn't possibly get more remote than that!

For the next day, I was correct. We were in Provo, UT pretty close to BYU at this wonderful old school building. Just a note, the building was a school at one point, not just an 0ld-school building. We had a lot of young children for extras that day and it was a lot of fun to see kids running around in their "school uniforms," especially when drivers would yield to them. We wrapped the school location around 12:00pm and had a company move to Salt Lake City! On the way I picked up Actor Rick Zahn who's done a ton of TV and Film work including a scene with Richard Gere in the film "Brooklyn's Finest." He was great company on the drive back to Salt Lake. We were shooting in this great historic house near the University that's rented by such friendly personalities as Liza the Law Student and Jimmy the Snowboarder. The room in which we filmed was very small so I didn't get to see a lot of the action that day, but I did take a rather entertaining picture of Craig, the key grip, standing in for an actor during lighting.

After being in Salt Lake for a few hours, I was gravely disappointed where I was headed for the next two days. Vernon UT is about 30 miles south of Tooele, not a bad place. It has one gas station/restaurant/fishing shop and it's surrounded by ranches and BLM owned land. Our location was about 2 miles outside of the town, in a telephone relay building in the process of being converted for living. There was no running water, and therefore the bathroom was designated as "#1 Only." Therefore it was my job to drive people the 2 miles back into town when they needed the bathroom. The first day in Vernon I was pleased with the task of driving Marnie Schulenburg from her hotel. Marnie just wrapped 3 seasons (202 episodes!) of "As the World Turns" in New York City and she's appeared in several more TV and Theatre projects since then. That day of shooting included a scene in which the lead character (played by the only local actor) was drenched with gasoline! We poured water on him a few times and he only had so many costumes so he was forced to dry out his clothing in clever ways.

The final day we were in Springville in the morning but our prop car (a 1995 Geo Prism) broke down forcing us to look for a quick replacement. We did find one but not before we had to push the old one all over the place to make the shots work. We then traveled back to Salt Lake for the last scene. We all crammed into the production designer's house for the last few shots, a pizza dinner from the Pie (as per my request, New Yorkers don't know where the good pizza in Utah is) and shot the Martini sometime around midnight. It was our longest day but probably our most productive as well.

Earlier in the week I had given my orange behind-the-head earmuffs to Oona, the little girl playing the title character as a way to keep her ears warm without messing up her hair. Over the next few days she was hardly seen without them between takes. Her dad gave them back to me the last day but I asked if she wanted to keep them. She shrugged the question off and I told her that she could have them if she told me that she wanted to keep them. After some hesitation she finally said "I'm only telling you this because you told me to, but I want to keep them." That was good enough for me, and now she has a souvenir from me! Plus it was a good excuse to buy some new ones that weren't bright orange.

This was probably the best experience I've ever had on a film set and it was thanks to everyone's passion and professionalism. There were no divas or prima donnas, just hard working people happy to be doing their jobs, even if it wasn't for much money. It's because of that enthusiasm that I believe this film will be great.

October 17, 2011

The Family Bible

I was hired as a grip for the short film "The Family Bible," but soon after the same camera crew from the chair movie arrived on set I was conscripted to perform my duty as 2nd A.C. once again.

Connie Wilkerson, the Final Cut Pro certification instructor for the U of U, wrote and grant and purchased a Red One camera package for the school. Since its initial arrival it's been sitting around waiting for batteries, lenses and LCD screens to arrive. Then, once those items finally came it was sent back to California to have the sensor upgraded to the new Mysterium-X model. Now it's finally available for use and Connie wrote a short film to be made by students and shot with the new camera.

The story follows a family wrought with tragedy as they clash over who has the rights to the family bible. We shot 2 days at the Post Chapel on the U of U campus and we'll be shooting another day there next week.

The location is quite excellent, the historical military chapel has been fully restored and the interior is beautiful. It has a functional bell tower and a stage that can be raised and lowered electronically depending on the type of service the chapel needs to perform. The purpose of the building is to preserve the history of the Fort Douglas area and to give students space for interfaith service and worship.

As per usual, here are some behind the scenes photos:

From May 29, 2011

From May 29, 2011

From May 29, 2011

From May 29, 2011

From May 29, 2011

For more information and a ton more photos, click here or click the post title for the Facebook fan page.

A Chair is a Chair

In May I worked as the 2nd Assistant Camera for a short film commissioned for The Leonardo in Salt Lake City. For those of you who don't know, The Leonardo is housed in the former building of the Salt Lake Public Library and features an unprecedented amount of interactive art and media.

The film follows a chair who gains sentience and goes on a journey to find itself and discover its origin. Check out the trailer below.

Notice that handsome dock worker? That's me! Almost all of the crew got to be extras at some point. The fact that you see my face is quite unique because most of the humans in the film are shot from the waist down, so we're at chair level. However, shooting at chair level meant that myself and the rest of the camera crew were hugging the ground almost always. There were some sore knees at the end of the day.

Many thanks to Margaret King the camera operator, my close friend (and my first stage kiss!) who taught me how to be a 2nd A.C., Jason Boninger who taught me to be 1st A.C. during his absence (first time pulling focus, screwed it up a ton :S), Jeremy Neilsen the DP who affectionately named me 'Corn Dog,' and Erin Cole who became my 2nd when I became the 1st and probably did a better job than me.

Here are some behind the scenes photos.

From May 29, 2011

From May 29, 2011

From May 29, 2011
As far as I know the film should be visible in the Leonardo gallery. They just opened last week so go check it out quick!

August 22, 2011

A Midsummer Night's Dream!

Over the past two months I've slowly but steadily been growing sideburns.

Over the past two months I've been commuting to Layton, 5 days a week.

Over the past two months I've been rehearsing for "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Davis Arts council. Now you don't have to drive all the way to Cedar City to see a great production. And I do mean 'great' in every sense of the word. If I may quote fellow actor Dan Beecher, "It's probably better than community theatre deserves to be!"

There's are a few reasons for that. The first is director Mark Fossen, who has served as my acting teacher, mentor and fellow actor in the past. Mark learned to direct at cool places like NYU, so he knows a bit about directing and a lot about Shakespeare. Second, a good director attracts good talent and this show has some of Salt Lake's best. Mark's wife April Fossen (Mesa Verde at Plan-B) is Titania, Dan Beecher (The Caretaker at SLAC) is Bottom, Rhiannon Ross (An Ideal Husband at Pinnacle Acting Co.) is Helena, Sarah Young (Taming of the Shrew at Salt Lake Shakespeare) is Hermia and Topher Rasmussen (Borderlands at Plan-B) is Demetrius. I myself play Lysander and "here is a play fitted."

These aren't the only talented people involved, the whole cast consists of professionals, students and community members all of whom are incredibly enthusiastic and make a great performance. We open August 24th and run until August 29th, plus the fairy magic of the show really pays off in an outdoor venue.

Tickets are $10 for Adults and $7 for Children and Seniors at the Ed Kenley Amphitheater in Layton UT. You can take the UTA FrontRunner up to the Layton Station and enjoy a nice 20 minute walk through historic downtown and the park on your way to the venue. Click on the post title for a link to the Davis Arts Council website to find directions and info. Or just check out the map below.

July 18, 2011

Updates to my IMDB page

It's been a while since any real updates but here's a quick rundown of what I've been up to.

-Wrapped "War of the Worlds," my Theatre BA Thesis, which was a great success! We sold out the show in the first 10 minutes and had to pack people in as they came!

-Visited my close friend Gillian Merrill and her family in New York City to see her Off-Broadway debut in "Damn Actors" a new musical comedy. She was quite excellent!

-Was hired to film a dance performance for Salt Lake City Ballet. Their production included the dream scene from "Don Quixote" which was the same ballet that launched my mother's career. It was the first I've seen of it, but I thought it was rather good.

-Worked as Assistant Camera (1st and 2nd depending on the day) on a short film called "A Chair is a Chair" with RIOTentertainment. The film was commissioned as part of the multimedia gallery at The Leonardo in downtown SLC. It will play in the gallery for a year from the museum's opening. Margaret King, DP for "Ten," was my cam-op and got me involved.

-Worked as an assistant teacher at Youth Theatre at the U for my 4th summer in a row. I taught a bunch of kids to dance some bro moves to a Ke$ha soundtrack! I also won "Best Choreography" according to the office assistants at YTU.

-Worked on a commercial shot by Spitfire Studios out of Atlanta. Just a quick 1 day PA job but I got to hold a bounce board and watch a Red One move up and down on a Supertechnocrane!

-Got promoted at YTU. I'm currently in charge of my own company which is nothing but 14-18 year old girls. We're doing an all female Fosse review. Shelby Andersen is my wonderful asst. teacher on this experiment. I'm also teaching 2 sections of film production and another round of "Man Dance." It's a good balance of tasks, and I'm getting paid more!

-Shot a short film for my friend Quita's cousin Kyle. He had an idea about two people getting ready for a date displayed split screen. We shot for two quick days and I handed the footage over to Jim Heiner to edit. Expect to see some soon.

-Auditioning at SLAC for "Course 88b" for their 2011-2012 season.

-Playing Lysander in Davis Arts Council's production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with Mark Fossen as the director. Sarah Young my wonderful girlfriend plays Hermia, Topher Rasmussen plays Demetrius, Rhiannon Ross plays Helena and a new friend of mine, Dan Beecher, plays Bottom. Expect to hear some more about Dan soon. He and I are up to things!

-Finally, I added my headshot and some credits to my IMDB page.

I apologize for not documenting these things sooner but I'm just about the busiest I've been in a while. Also I'm not working at the computer lab which offers me most of my blogging time. Stay tuned for more exciting Connor Rickman news. I promise it won't take as long next time :S

April 1, 2011

More Laurels for Wastage

Wastage will be featured in the 2011 Scribendi literary magazine for undergraduate honors students. Scribendi is the official arts publication for the Western Regional Honors Council and features Essays, Poetry, Short Fiction, Visual Art, Photography, Digital Art, Film and Music by students.

From Plugs
Scribendi is the second undergraduate organization to feature Wastage so hopefully I can start entering it into some real film festivals soon. Upon hearing of its acceptance I immediately cut a new version featuring new color grading using Magic Bullet Looks and updated credits at the end of the film. Check out some before and after pictures of the color grading process. Most of the changes compensate for my crappy lighting but the last scene gets a brand new look to it.
From Color Correction Before and After

From Color Correction Before and After

From Color Correction Before and After

From Color Correction Before and After

From Color Correction Before and After

From Color Correction Before and After
Some subtle differences but they really make a difference in the mood. Before the grading some of the images looked a little too "Live Studio Audience," and now they match the rest of film with some added drama. Click below to check out these images and more in motion.

Wastage from Connor Rickman on Vimeo.

Two lovers caught in the turmoil of the Great War.