Last night we wrapped our June shooting for episode 7. We have two more shoot days before Ep7 is finished, one at the end of July, one at the end of August (that’s just the way schedules are lining up), but we have 59 pages of a 68-page script shot, and that’s not too shabby.
Shoot day 9. Thursday, June 21st. We got to our location on the north side of the city a little before 8. A little early considering that we wouldn’t be able to shoot until it was dark out and we find naturally well-lit alleys to shoot in without us adding more lighting because it looks dark and shadowy that way and the mark ii is a low light beast. We started shooting at around 9:15 and ended at around 11:30. No major hitches, just grinding through getting our shots. One of my favorite things about production is hanging out with everyone after wrapping and that night we headed to a great Mexican food joint called Arturo’s and I had my first ever Piña Colada. It was delicious.
Shoot day 10. Monday, June 25th. A grab bag night. A lot of times in PoPS episodes we end up with small little one-shot scenes that run 1/8 or 2/8 of a page. So I always try to find a central location and shoot a bunch of them in one night. Monday night was our grab bag night and it started out pretty rough. We had an 8 p.m. call to get one little daylight scene before all of our night stuff, but one of our cast members had a hard time getting to location so we missed out on the natural light and we had to fake it. But we ended up getting it. We were at our next location by around 9 and getting all our lighting in place. I don’t know what it was about Monday night, but we drew a lot of interest. People in the suburbs are REALLY fantastically production friendly and Monday night they were out in droves. At our second location we had two groups of people stop by and ask us about what we were doing, all smiles. We were back on the road by 10 and headed to another suburban town, Highland Park, with streets that better approximate a city look. The only problem was the barrenness. The streets are empty after 10 in the suburbs. So we were shooting on this well lit intersection in front of a new restaurant called In The Raw. Now, ordinarily, we do our best to not shoot directly at a business we haven’t cleared because that’s a great way to get the cops called on you, and there were still people clearly moving around and noticing us inside In The Raw, but they’re on the best lit corner in Highland Park, so what were we supposed to do? I was just trying to get everything done as quickly as possible and get us out of there when the proprietor pops his head out the door with his two daughters behind him. I go into damage control immediately with a friendly, “Hi. How you doing?” I’m readying my, “Oh we’re just a few young upstarts with a YouTube show and no money” spiel when the guy says, “If you get my business in that shot I’ll give you guys some food.” For real. I thought he was joking. But a couple minutes later, when we’re between setups, out comes his 10-ish year old daughter with a tray of assorted cookies for us. Then the whole lot of them ended up walking around in the background during our shots to have a little street activity. It was the greatest. We moved off the street by around 11 and had one more quick scene in the back alley and we wrapped it up around midnight. Then a few of us went to Steak and Shake. Oh, man. Steak and Shake is awesome after-production food.
Shoot day 11. Wednesday, June 27th. With us being nights and weekends shooters, some of our retail working cast and crew miss a few weekend shifts to attend shooting. I wanted to do at least ONE weekday shoot for them where myself and the 9-to-5’ers had to cash in a sick day for a day they normally have off. We spent the whole day in the Humboldt Park area of the city at a bitchin’ coffee house called Star Lounge. We arrived at noon and sat around waiting for cast because traffic was really bad yesterday in bizarre fits and starts. Only two cast members out of seven actually made their call time yesterday. That ended up being okay though as I had scheduled huge blocks of time for scenes and we did a fair amount of sitting around and hanging out between things. There was just one problem. The mark ii records to CF cards. It’s just digital information on a memory card until it’s backed up to external hard drives. We had wrapped the first scene and one of our actors headed back toward her far northwestern suburb. After lunch we were moving on to the second scene when the camera just froze up. Ryan (DP) said he had seen it before, it’s no big deal. Then we do another take and watching playback it just froze. Playback froze. Ryan said, “I have not seen that before though.” We decided to shut the camera off and try again. As soon as he turned it back on there was a message that read CARD NOT FORMATTED, FORMAT CARD FOR CAMERA. Translation: Nothing on this card, bitches! I was ready to scream. It ended up being fine. David (sound, crew, everything guy) ran the card to his place and dropped the footage to a hard drive and his computer and after a little bit of bother everything showed up, but it was a nerve wracking section of an otherwise fantastic shoot day. We wrapped at about 8:30 p.m. It was a really great day and the location looked fantastic. We then went and had the best burrito in Chicago, a Chicken Chipotle Burrito from a place called Picante.
Long entry. But three shoot days. Now I’m heading back into VFX on episode 6 after work.
Thanks for reading.