Due to the limited time that the equipment was available, as well as the availability of the lead actors who came up from Manhattan for the duration of shooting, the schedule was tight. Typically a film is shot in one to six months, depending on the budget and scope of the project. Three weeks is considered ridiculously short. Not only did Primal Legacy have less than two weeks be shot in, there was no margin for error. After this time the actors would be gone, the equipment would be gone and what little money the project was starting with would surely be gone. If the weather turned bad; if and actor got sick or didn't show up; if someone walked out or was offered something better; if the equipment broke or malfunctioned; if footage was lost; if the production team was kicked off of a location... there were so many things that could bring the project to a complete stop, but this was not what was going through Klavun's head. He knew that he couldn't think about these things. And he knew that this was his one shot, so he was commited to making it work by shear force of will at whatever the cost. Klavun knew that he had the bug that some would think he's crazy for, some would pity him, while others would envy him.
"The first thing I came face to face with when shooting in the summer," says Klavun, "is that using fans or AC is not an option when shooting indoors under hot lights." Fans were used between shots to cool off the actors, but because of sound issues, they could not be turned on while the camera was rolling. "In the bedroom scene you can see the sweat on Markus [Limberger]'s face that built up during the take." Klavun goes on to describe how these scenes, being the first ones shot for the film, were full of challenges. "We would shoot until four in the morning when I had to let my actors and crew go, so I was left alone to break down the set. I remember one of these nights I barely got one hour of sleep before starting another twenty hour day with no break." There as little simpathy from his cast and crew. "At one point when I was feeling that lack of sleep hitting me, Matt [Sanda] told me 'director's never sleep during a shoot. What are you complaining about? You're making a movie!' And he was right. I was making a fucking movie!"
As the days went on, Klavun as well as the others didn't get much sleep. Five hours was a luxury. And the primary cast was getting cranky. Differences of views showed themselves. "Being a director, especially on a low budget film, is not only about telling actors what to do. You have to keep the actors', as well as the crew's, belief in the project alive. As well as their belief in you as a director. The long hours and hard work serverely tax on the energy that the project started with."
Klavun has been asked on many occasions what he would do differently if he had to do it again. To this he replies that one of the first things "would be to make sure the actors truely understand the different between acting for theater and acting for film, especially if they've never worked on a feature film before. If you're a lead in a play, you're on the stage practically the entire time you're working. Whether it's in rehearsal or performing the finished work, you're always doing what you're there to do: act. Not only that, are performing a play, the entire story plays out completely, in sequence and uninterupted. In film, it's completely different. First of all, the amount of time it takes to set up a shot, especially if a lot of artificial lighting is needed, can exceed the amount of time the actors are in front of the camera by several fold. Then, when the actor is finally allowed to perform, they're repeatedly interupted by the director yelling 'cut!' Depending on the complexity of a scene, it may take a good number of takes before what is needed is captured. Then, when you finally get what you need and the actor thinks they're done with the scene, it has to be done from another angle, and then another, and then the close-ups from several angles. Sure you can shoot an entire scene from one angle with one take, but it's not my style. I like to get intimate with the characters on screen. I need close-ups."
Somehow the shoot completed despite everything, including losing most of one day to rain, almost being removed from one of the key locations due to trespassing laws (true guerrilla film-making), actors getting injured (let's not even talk about insurance), accidently recording over most of one of the scenes and having to do an unscheduled reshoot in the middle of everything (oops!), an empty bank account (you have to feed those hungry actors and crew), and tired actors and crew pushed beyond endurance. But despite all this, in the end, not one person said they wouldn't do it all again.
One of joys of making a film where no one is paid is that you're guarranteed to only have people working on it because they want to be there so passionately that they're willing to give up everything else in their lives for a few weeks to go on a hair-brained ride fueled by nothing but faith in something they won't see the results of for over a year. "I was constantly awed almost to the point of tears at the devotion everyone gave to this project. It didn't feel like these people were working for me, just trying to do what had to be done to finish the job. Everyone, down to my super-devoted seventeen year-old PA, Will Arland, would not rest until everything was better than perfect. Not one person had a lower standard than I for this production. I am eternally grateful the for amount of work everyone put into this." Where else can you find this but in truely independent film production?
Not only did Primal Legacy have less than two weeks be shot in, there was no margin for error. After this time the actors would be gone, the equipment would be gone and what little money the project was starting with would surely be gone.
Klavun knew that he had the bug that some would think he's crazy for, some would pity him, while others would envy him.
"I remember one of these nights I barely got one hour of sleep before starting another twenty hour day with no break." --Klavun
"I like to get intimate with the characters on screen. I need close-ups." --Klavun
"I was constantly awed almost to the point of tears at the devotion everyone gave to this project.... Everyone, down to my super-devoted seventeen year-old PA, Will Arland, would not rest until everything was better than perfect." --Klavun