It Is Finished
Two years ago mid June a group of some of my closest friends started on the biggest undertaking of our life. Extraction Day, store a full length action thriller. I don’t know the exact date, but I do know that my son was born on June 14th, 2012 and about a week later, with my amazing, crazy, over supportive wife, Jacqueline, at home with our brand new baby, I set out with a motley crew of filmmakers and we started principal photography.
It was only suppose to be a weekend. We were doing a proof of concept. A little short film to test out our actors, our crew and to see what we were capable of as a team.
We had been prepping for weeks. Fight choreography, location scouting, stick men storyboards (which are my speciality), casting, props. We were doing everything we could do be prepared for the weekend.
The weekend came and went, we had a blast. I went home to my wife. Thanked her for supporting me and allowing me to do this little project and embraced being a husband and new dad. It was done and over, or so I thought.
Alex our editor had taken the footage and started to lay it out. I was back, working on commercials and corporate projects, but what happened next changed everything.
A week or two later, Alex brought us over to his computer and we watched the first rough cut of what we shot. He played it through and at the end we all stopped and just stared at each other.
There was Tim, Alex, Jennifer and myself around a computer just silent. Nobody said a word we all just stared at the screen. We were all thinking the same thing, we knew we had somehing. There was something there in the footage that was amazing. This wasn’t just “proof” of the concept, it was proof that we could actually tell a story on a hollywood calibre.
I went back to my wife and told her the “good news.” You know the whole, “Hey you know that weekend that I just took off to make a little film. Well the film is getting a little bigger. Oh and it’s going to drain us financially, physically, and emotionally. It’s long days during the week and on weekends we have to prep for the next week. Also you might have to help provide meals for the crew.”
My wife just starred at me. She took a life insurance policy out in my name the follow week. I literally thought she was going to hire a hit man and collect. But somehow, by God’s grace, she said yes and this weekend battle turned into a two year war.
The next two years we did over 65 days of shooting. A lot of those days were 18 hour days. We would get on sets as the sun was setting, work through the night and then through the day and be packing up as the sun was coming down again. I would stare at the monitor and everyday I was living the dream. We would forgetto eat, forget to pee, forget to sleep. We were really doing the impossible. Pushing the limits. Nothing was off the table. I would come to the guys and say, “I want to crash a car in this scene,” and then we would figure out where we would get a car and how we would flip it.
For over two years we worked on this movie and it wasn’t easy.
For me, my family’s second home was on location. My son literally learned how to walk on the set of this film. Jeremy, my brother who plays Jacob Bradley would be in wardrobe and makeup, fake blood painted on him and Ryder would just walk up to him and hold up his hands and yell “Jer.” He just got use to everybody having “hurts” as he would say, all over their body.
We started postproduction for the movie as we were shooting. We would shoot a section and then see how it played and then tweak the script. I remember Aaron Tomlin, who plays Chase Williams, pulled out his phone in the ending of one the scenes he was in. It was only in one take but it was the one take that we needed. We had to rewrite the next scene to incorporate the gesture… oh how I love actors.
Then there’ s Paul Dunk. He plays a Gate Agent. After the first day on set with him I went back over all his lines and cut them down to point form. For every word on script he saw, five more came out in performance. It was all great, but he was stacking up the run time of the movie.
The worst day for me had to be when ED1 died. It is one of our servers that is home to the 14 terabytes of raw footage from Extraction Day. The first twenty days of shooting were gone. Erased, lost. It was a critical failure. We lost multiple drives at the same time. We didn’t have the cash flow to do an identical back up and weren’t sure if we had all the footage.
Alex started searching drives and little by little rebuilt the movie. I laid on the couch for a week straight. Just in self pity and contemplating what I was going to do. Luckily, Alex rebuilt 90 percent of what we lost and the rest we either reshot or edited around.
Days like that were hard.
In the end we wrote a really good story, with a cool plot and cool characters and then we jammed it with fights scenes, car chases, guns, explosions, fighter jets. We rewrote that script 22 times and then sent it to script doctors and with their feedback, rewrote it again.
It has been a crazy journey. People everywhere helped us make a movie that is way bigger then what we could of done on our own.
These pass two years have been so amazing. We made a multi – million dollar movie on a fraction of that budget because of the people that came together to make this happen
We set out to tell a great story and I don’t think people are going to be disappointed.
This has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I never knew how big it was going to get.
Above all I am super excited that it is finished and we finally get to share it with the world.
Now I get to focus on being a husband and dad… that is until the sequel.