14 April 2011

Day 1 of Dave Bullis' GAME OVER


There aren't a whole lot of moving part to GAME OVER. Much like CLERKS, it exists almost entirely in a small store, the story revolving around the lives of the people who exist in the world of this store and the immediate surroundings. Being a TV show, this makes sense. It makes everything more or less self-contained.

Well, I'm guessing that's the case. I haven't read the script.

It's a small set, but it's on a parcel of land that's pretty well removed from a lot of stuff, which makes it a lot easier to operate. There's a large basketball court where we can keep gear and rooms in the back where the unneeded cast and crew can relax without having to worry about talking too loud and ruining the sound. Pretty much we have the run of the place. It's a big building that doesn't really seem to be doing anything other than this, which is nice.


Call is 7am and we load in, which takes a bit. The crew is about the size you'd expect. We start filming around 11am. The first scene revolves around the store's chief gamer Trey (Robb Stech) berating a kid who's trying to play some video game, and then being too cool to deal with a customer. So, yeah, it's a lot like CLERKS. Robb improvises the scene quite a bit, which is effective, as it adds a freshness to the dialogue. Plus, it tends to get better reactions from the other actors.

don't look at me

I'm not sure why I'm so surprised that CLERKS is a template for something that takes place in a video store. It's a pretty easy series of dots to connect. Maybe I'm just surprised that we're still so thematically beholden to a rather mediocre indie from 15 years ago that wouldn't have a shot in hell at finding an audience if it came out today. It just strikes me as a pretty terrible starting point for your story, especially when you consider that CLERKS itself is sort of based on "The Divine Comedy". Why not go back into the original source and work from there? It's kind of like basing your love story on TROMEO AND JULIET instead of, you know, Shakespeare. I dunno, it seems like you really limit yourself with that approach.

Just a pet peeve of mine.


The real highlight of day 1 is the early stages of Kenneth McGregor's performance as Jim, an older store employee who sort of exists on his own wavelength. Think Kramer, without the caffeine. It's always fascinating to watch an experienced actor work, and this is one in full control. He knows his character and, beyond that, he knows the other characters and works to make the other actors better. It's what you think of when you hear the term "actor's actor". It's a joy to watch him work. And even more importantly, he's damned funny. You probably remember him from X-MEN. He was Magneto's father.

You don't meet a whole lot of actors that make you want to write something for them specifically. He's certainly one of them.

meet the kids

Coming up in Day 2: something called Jerry the Gerbil. And a shitload of little kid extras.

Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.