Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Princess of Oz -

I am so glad I took that computer class. Now I have a little bit of knowledge on HTML and this blog doesn't have to look dreadful. "The Princess of Oz," based on L Frank Baum's "Marvelous Land of Oz," was a project I started for the love of children's theater. I was a part of University Children's Theater at Riverside and I really wanted them to put on a production of an Oz play. I thought it would be easy since they wouldn't have to pay royalties since I would be writing it. Originally conceived as a musical, I was a little heartbroken when my original script was passed over for another project. A fellow cast mate told me that maybe I should just turn it into a little film. Having just graduated from college with my Bachelor's in Theater, I was very ambitious and had no doubt I could finish this project. While casting the film, most if not all of them really good actor friends of mine, one thing was certain: the songs had to go. I didn't mind the loss of the songs so much. If anything, I just wanted to make a movie that L Frank Baum would've been proud of, so I based the look of the film on his own Oz movie "The Patchwork Girl of Oz" even adding in that character into my script. Sidenote: "The Patchwork Girl of Oz" was filmed in my hometown of San Diego. Once casting was done, I did a screen test with Ashley Jo Navarro as Scraps The Patchwork Girl and Hart Lee as Scarecrow. This was done in Ashley's backyard which was originally where most of the filming was to have taken place.

We decided to take a more artifical approach to the backgrounds so we built a forest in Ashley's garage. Here is Tracey Quesenberry as Dorothy and Jinjur; Ashley as Scraps; and Zachary Ledbetter as Jack Pumpkinhead. Jack's head was made using a plastic pumpkin from Michael's. Scraps and Dorothy are both in costumes that were later on redesigned based on this test footage.

It was then decided that green screen would be the best path to take. Mostly because we weren't sure what to do about backgrounds. At least if it's green screen, we could film the actors now and decide later. In this test footage we used a drawing I did. Obviously we did not go in that direction.

Our first filmed scene was my favorite. Here's Jack and Scraps meeting. I had them film this so many times. There's no background added yet.

We originally wanted to use a fog machine for one of the scenes. The results were not what was expected. Keep in mind this footage was filmed in a tiny room and there was no escape.

I was flirting with the idea of using pop music as a soundtrack. Here's a song written by San Diego singer Randi Driscol that I wanted to use to accompany a touching scene between Scraps and Scarecrow. "What Matters Most" was written in memory of Matthew Shephard who died of a hate crime.

An impromptu interview with Jack was what helped Zachary find his character. The original interview was 20 minutes long. Zachary suggested this be the finished film. I think I might agree with him, but still, I can't seem to give up on my original vision.

It was hard to keep track of my actors since most if not all of them lived in Riverside and I was in Chula Vista. That's a good two hours away and gas was getting expensive. I decided to maybe (maybe) use recycled footage and insert silent movie title cards. This way I don't have to track actors down and it adds to the silent film look I was trying to pay homage to.

We decided to not go in this route and revist my initial idea of using songs to help push the story forward. As I was continuing to film the scenes, I decided to put together a rough cut of the film. In this clip, Dominique Araiza plays Tip who originally starts the book out as a boy and turns into a princess at the end of the movie. I decided to change the gender bending aspect for my movie.

Another fun scene to film was this one with Mombi, Jinjur and the Jinjettes. Jinjur and The Jinjettes were all played by Tracey Quesenberry. My new editing software helped us piece this scene together. Jaclyn as Mombi was filmed over a period of months due to time and distance.

The last clip I put together was my favorite scene. Here's the same scene with Scraps and Jack meeting. Now there's a background. The song in the background is by Jason and Jane, who sang this song at my sister's wedding. Jane Liu is now a soloist and a helluva soloist she is.

I still need to fix the sound with some of the dialogue and put backgrounds in, but this movie is pretty much done. It just needs to be put together. It was a lot of fun though, wasn't it guys? Follow the progress of this movie here: The Princess of Oz Redux


  1. I was thinking about this project the other day and thinking about you guys obviously. And I remember that a few of us thought of crying when we saw the Scraps and Scarecrow video. Lol and we even floated the idea of doing a music video with our characters to the song "Umbrella." Aahhhh memories. Well my bf can play the Scarecrow. He's just about Hart's height hehe. Good times :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for the "awesome" comment ;-)

      I'm starting to revive this project. Can't wait.


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