Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Don't talk to Strangers: GREETINGS FROM THE SHORE

So I recently unearthed some old photographs from my days in the Art Department on the film GREETINGS FROM THE SHORE. It was a pretty sweet gig, where I basically got paid to hang out on the Jersey Shore (well before anyone knew what a Snooki was). It was a super sappy love story that I believe went straight to DVD. We were there just after Labor Day and kicked of an ambitious film with a small crew, a tight schedule, and a tighter budget.

I was credited as a Set Dresser in the film, though I helped and assisted with carpentry, scenic painting and a variety of other tasks. This was definitely a get-your-hands-dirty kinda job. It was great because the weather was still mostly spectacular, we (our 5 person Art Dept.) lived in a small guest house that was a minute and a half walk to the bay were you could try your luck fishing out crabs or you could turn around, walk seven minutes and you'd hit the ocean.

We filmed at a view different locations; on the beach, along the board walk, at the Lavalette Yacht Club, and a Paramedic Garage Bay that we converted into sets. To meet out deadlines, everything had to have a natural look, even if it was entirely fabricated. We set about building flats for sets, gathering set dressing & props and tackling the project full on.

One main set we needed to build was for "Catch", played by Paul Sorvino. His character lives on a dilapidated houseboat, which meant we couldn't film there so we built it. The main idea was to sell the idea of a man that was down & out on his luck and had been for some time. I think this environment definitely reflects that.

Newspapers, which were tinted with a brown paint wash, covered the windows serving as ghetto drapes, but also hid the rest of the location around us. Here it's filled with rain gear, old trunks, and other knick knacks.The walls are a wood paneling that we slightly sanded and then spot stained to add severe aging.

One thing we also did so that this room was "sold" as the boat interior was drill pinholes in the walls and tie fishing line to things like the hats and tools, and would lightly tug on them time from time to give the illusion that they were swaying in the water.

For such a small space, you can see how much was piled into the room. I honestly believe the boat would've sunk if we would put that much set dressing on it.

Here you can see our "Jenny" leaving, but what you also have to notice is the "natural" or "practical" light sources which are a big deal in helping light a scene that would normally be dank and dark.

Here you can see the attention to detail with crushed beer cans and old dry cleaning hangers. You have to go out and get/save that stuff!

This room I am particularly proud of as it was largely constructed by myself and left to my discretion, though supervised by my bosses. This was Jenny's rented room above a Bait Shop in the storyline. It's meant to look more than a bit disheveled and left to the elements of being located near the shore. The stairwell you see goes no where, but it was nice to add the sound effect of other renters stomping up the stairs.

One part of the wall is white B-board that is painted an almost robin egg blue and then sanded to reveal the white underneath. From that I added layers of dark green and brown was to give the appearance of water damage.

This was done to the particle board was as well. The electrical conduit you see is all fake as well, but it helps sell the effect.

We built a window bench and discolored that as well with sanding and by scratching and carving the names of my department into the wood.

Homely elements balanced with some of the dankness helps sell the illusion of the trouble with the character. Even just tossing some wardrobe about really helps the audience belive that the character bleongs in this space.

One thing I really like was the water stain I painted on the ceiling. It's a brown paint water wash, painted inwards in a circular pattern. This was done with combination of brushwork and sponging.

These flowers? They were fresh that day, donated from a local florist. I however took some grey and off-green spray paint and made them look like they had been dead for weeks.

One joke was that Catch would have a pin-up girl on his boat, so I took up the challenge and a scrap piece of particle board. I used an old Vargas girl as inspiration and made sure to age it with a watered down brown paint wash.

Here's a look at the whole portrait. Most folks were pleased with it, but I wanted to work on it longer, I'm still not very good at the human figure. This was all done with acrylic paint and black Sharpie marker. This is a perfect example of why Vargas is an icon and I write a blog.

One running joke written into the script was how the Yacht club always, always, ALWAYS, had Scrod on the menu. I did up a couple of chalk sandwich boards throughout the film.

Here's a couple of close-ups. This was all done with standard sidewalk chalk.

Here's another closer peek.

Another set we had to build was one of the boarding rooms were the hunky, but misunderstood foreign love interest stays. Here we used cheap contact paper as wallpaper and sponged it with brown paint wash for a dirty, weathered look.

The same blue B-board is carried through to imply that this room is in the same building since it has similar decor.

One thing I particularly liked was the square stains that would be left behind from paintings or photographs on the wall. Of course, that's simply paint.

Here you can see the back side of the flat, making the room completely detachable. Camera and lighting are able to move in and freely get a wide range of motion in capturing the scene.

And of course here's the famous water stained ceiling. We ended up using this anytime we would see the ceiling in a shot of the boarding rooms, so if you'll look closely, you'll notice the same stain dance around to numerous rooms and corners!

This was a really fun and challenging project to work on and the crew was fantastic, turning out top-notch, quality work constantly, day in & day out. It was the last feature film that I would work on from start to finish in the Art Department. Regardless it's a fun little date flick that will probably help you get to 2nd base at the very least.

And I know you're dying to see the trailer, so here goes....

And if you actually watch the film, you see a cameo of yours truly, as I got sucked into a party scene.

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