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This 24P (Panasonic DVX 100) film was shot in three countries in eight days. There was no script and the film, apart from the leads, consists of non-professionals who most of the time thought they were meeting a bad motivational speaker who had written a book called North Star. The film has many situations that were completely real and were weaved into the story. The best example is the scene where "Kalle", a real life underworld kingpin, (there is news footage of him – not in our film – but of him being shot twice in the stomach and then flipping the bird to news reporters as they wheeled him out) taking "Bob" and "Greta" to the red light district of Hamburg. In our scene, "Kalle" gets road rage and stops the car right in the middle of a busy intersection, then proceeds to knock a huge guy down with three punches. All on camera and all woven in the story as the lead character, "Bob Patterson" stays true to the situation and says "Hostility comes from a deep place Kalle and I know you know that…I actually have a chapter about traffic". By the way, "Bob" almost took it on the chin for staying in character, but thankfully Kalle's English wasn't so good. Other real people in real situations especially worth mentioning were at the triathlon. It was fun to watch old and young open up and share some of their true life experience and perspective with "Bob". A touching moment was when we screened the film in Germany. I called and invited the "philosophical piano tuner"; The first thing he asked very sympathetically (and with a heavy Italian accent) "how is your book doing?"

The songs were all written at my dining room table about 10 days before we left for Germany to film. They were all written by myself, my producer/co-writer/cinematographer, my composer and my executive producer. We recorded all of the songs in a few hours at studio in Hollywood and then used the jam box that you see in the film for playback. The songs were sent via the internet to the German actors so they could become at least a little familiar with them before we arrived to shoot. We did all of the vocals live in Germany and then did some studio recording when we edited the film.

At the last minute my orginal cinematographer had a job conflict so he could not make the shoot. Dan Mirvish, the co-writer and producer stepped in and shot the film. It was almost entirely hand held with the exception of about three scenes. We had only a crew of two, and most days it was just one of the two. We had no crew in Paris. Our lighting package consisted of flashlights, headlights, and the moon. Watch the fight scene between "Bob", "Greta" and "Andreas" after the concert and you'll see the flashlights in their best use. And then watch the "North Star" finale song and know that we did nothing to enhance that moon in post and the only other lights we had were the line of German cabs that happened to be waiting behind us on the bridge. For sound we used a boom and one lav. The other lav broke when we arrived in Germany. So you'll notice how in many scenes the actors stand very close to each other.for no apparent reason. That was about the same time we found out the airline had lost our luggage and we were forced to shoot with the same wardrobe for "Bob" the first 3 days. (1/3 of our entire shoot)..

As you might guess, many things came together in post. Through the hard work of Felix Martens (co-producer and one half of entire crew in Germany), Jason Schmid (Editor) and Leslie Rogers (Composer) we managed to construct a film that has put smiles on a lot of faces and a few songs in their hearts. Felix came to the US for six weeks and helped me with the first assembly. His girlfriend Lene in Germany also helped with flame work to help stableize some of our more shaky on-the-run scenes. The police in Paris almost confiscated our camera twice and the night out with Kalle obviously had its precarious moments where we had to shoot quickly. Jason and Leslie worked tirelessly (and their salaries consisted of being taken out to lunch and dinner to such upscale establishments as Baja Fresh, Bob' Big Boy, and on big editing/music days, Hooters. The picture was edited in Final Cut Pro and audio was finessed in Pro tools. Leslie did all of the instrumentation either playing the instruments himself or using his computer. The one exception in the original songs is "Empire is Crumbling" which was done by Marek Harloff.


I'm pretty sure that the genesis of "Half Empty" is exclusive to us and no other filmmaker. Our original reason in making this film, and specifically making a musical, was we learned that there is a category of the Academy Award that goes unused every year because there are literally not enough submissions. What's the category you ask?: "Original Musical". Check out the Oscar website and I think you'll be surprised when you read about the Original Musical and its requirements (And by the way, I've spoken to the Academy office and it appears almost certain that they will not have enough films this year!) Calling Bollywood…

So that was the original catalyst to make the film. Then when I returned to Los Angeles with the footage and started trying to shape a story that would make sense, I realized I had more than just a possible short cut to an Oscar nomination. And that was my intention all along. I thought whatever happens with the fun Academy adventure, I want my feature directorial debut to be something I can be proud of and a film that audiences can enjoy even without the humorous "how" and "why" we made it. I hope that I've accomplished that.

Bob Patterson
Divider Awards

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