Making Daisy Park

"Falling in love with your cellmate's girlfriend."
By Air Pop 
Introduction by Asher Penn 

Sophia in 7-11, Photo: Michael Hernandez

Watching a movie grow from an idea into a reality is crazy. When Air Pop first told about Daisy Park - a love triangle between two cellmates and a girl- I didn’t get it. “Do they have to be in a minimum security prison?” It sounded like a lot of work. Actually everything sounded like a lot of work, from writing the script, locations, wardrobe, actors… making a movie is hard.

Air Pop’s approach to making Daisy Park is wholly unique because it utilizes all the skills and tools of the contemporary artist and applies it to the execution of a story. It also revels in elements of film that typically get glossed over: cool soundtrack, clothes, props. Lo-Fi in all the right ways, Air Pop’s Daisy Park reminds us how much fun independent movies can be and the exciting, unexplored potential of true DIY filmmaking in 2014.

Here’s how it happened.

Tumblr Post, Jan 25th, 2012 3:39am

The Idea. This is basically where it all started. I wrote this post almost 3 years ago on a personal tumblr account, and that line haunted me for a while. I didn’t even consider a film around the idea till much later. That simple situation of extreme isolation, the world still turning outside, and all of your prior control stripped. Having a girlfriend is quite common while being locked up, especially in minimum security prisons like in the film. What a bummer.

Beta Pictures Business Plan, Spring of 2013

Beta Pictures. Asher and I first started discussing Beta Pictures in 2012. We couldn’t believe how bad independent film had gotten and were trying to figure out why. Our main concept was a film studio that produced and distributed cool movies made by artists. Working outside of the studio system is both thrilling and necessary for our goals and really guided my decision-making the entire way through.

Brenda Dying Sophia’s Hair In Beverly Hills

Daisy. When Sophia Park was recommended for the role of Daisy, it was mostly because of the name… Just a total coincidence that she was perfect for the part. It was exciting to meet an individual who understands the idea of portraying someone and also totally down to transform themselves. She flew over from New York and stayed in Los Angeles for a few months. Our shooting schedule allowed for her to do her own thing a lot of the time and hang out with her friends. I was at first apprehensive about such a spread out schedule, but in the end it was pretty healthy actually. Many long drives out to Simi Valley, sharing music and hearing her crazy tales about the night before.

Film Still

Funding. Steve is the fucking best. I guess you could say he was the green-light or whatever. He helped fund the film very early on, really getting it off the ground but he also killed it as the parole officer. Actually the day he signed the financial agreement, he asked if we could stop at the pet store. When we went in, he noticed the store employee struggling to grab his fish from the tank. He immediately grabbed the net from them and got them himself, all the while cracking jokes and making us laugh. That’s Steve. I’m really glad his personality came through in the film and made it such a special scene.

Homemade Camera Rig

Gear. My camera set up was both shitty and amazing I guess. I built a wooden rig myself to house it all and it turned out to be a pretty good design. I’m not really sure what people thought when they saw it, it’s pretty bootleg. I’m not crazy about how everything looks with Digital SLR so I bought a pretty old Tokina lens off of eBay that gave the film a different feel. Mixing and matching older lenses with newer cameras is a really good starting point if you don’t want that tacky digital look.

Cast Sheet

Cast. So no real actors, right? I guess I learned I’d rather work with some really cool people, than really untalented cheap actors. I’m from Los Angeles, so obviously I could create the entire cast with low paying actors in an afternoon. That sounded really awful to me, so I decided to look around and meet some people. I think I got super lucky because it didn’t take too long, but it was such a personal series of heavy decisions. Michael who played Raul looked straight up scary in a Facebook picture so I knew he’d be good. The guy that I wanted to play Jason just didn’t work out and was pretty unreliable. I was only able to communicate with him through Instagram Direct Messaging because he never paid his phone bill. I still love Jade though, he’s great, maybe some other project one day.

Miles & Air Pop Building The Set

Prison. A good portion of the film had to be set in a minimum security prison… where the fuck was I going to make that happen? I surfed Craigslist for months with no luck, it got pretty depressing at one point. Then one day I searched for an art studio, first post result came up, looked good. I called them, ran over there, and handed them a check. It was that fast, unreal. That moment really saved the project and chilled me out a lot. My friend Miles that also plays Jason, decided to share the space and play music there. I still have the space and I plan on recording my next record there.

Air Pop, Brandon & Ian, Photo: Michael Hernandez

The Yard. There's this really great open dirt field next to a skatepark I go to pretty frequently. I've gotten to hang with a lot of cool kids at that park. Miles first took me there a few years ago and it's pretty much become a weekly ritual for us. Anyways, it looks like a fucking prison yard and my buddy that works there hooked it up. I ended up naming the prison after my father (F.S. Morgan) which was just a joke. There's no metaphorical daddy-issue crap going on, he's the man.

Simi Valley, CA

The House. The Grandmother’s house is actually my brother and his wife’s place. They were generous enough to let me film there, which worked out great. It was pretty far away from the city but totally worth it in every way. It’s very suburban obviously and it was really funny filming the sex scene there. I had to shoot it from outside the window in the side-yard. Giving Ian and Sophia direction was rough because I had to yell weird sexual strategies so that they could hear me from inside. I already thought that their neighbors probably thought we were filming a porno.

Fitting & Wardrobe Reference Documents

Wardrobe. My girlfriend Allyson and I had long talks about the clothing for this project. What a girl wears everyday is an extremely valuable tool of expression that I really respect. We knew the overall direction for it and she did an incredible job of mixing online store purchases, thrift-store finds, and personal objects to execute a believable character. We also took some of the film budget, bought some extra clothes not for the film, and then doubled our money selling them on eBay… yeah, it’s like that.

Air Pop With The Girls, Photo: Nate Walton

Directing. Being a director basically means you need to know exactly what the fuck to do everyday. Patience will save your ass, and you just need to chill out and focus. You know that really dumb thing directors say about how sometimes the actor surprises them and they deliver something truly special… well that shit is true and it’s pretty fucking cool, and you don’t need a professional actor to notice it.

From Sex Magazine #9 Fall 2014
Labelled Film