Ep8 Shooting Days 1 & 2
Whoa! Here we are, into the production diary aspect of the blog again. A week ago this time, I was hyper-stressed about our first weekend of shooting in the warehouse. Now, here we are on the other side of it. We even wrapped ahead of schedule on both days.
Day 1-Saturday, October 5th
Woke up at 6:30 a.m., got to our gorgeously decrepit warehouse location at 7:30 a.m. Eliza went off to get the coffee and bagels for the cast. I checked on the 300 feet of extension cord that I ran through the building the day before and waited for people to show up. The weather report was for rain and the day before was dark to a point that would have made shooting in the warehouse impossible. Needless to say, I was a little nervous. We had some late arrivals, but were shooting by 9:30 a.m. Because of people’s schedules we were shooting things in a very round about way. I had taken the five’ish scenes that happen in the warehouse in episode 8, shotlisted everything, and scheduled the coverage of the least available actors first. On the first day, Suede (who plays Damon) had to leave early to perform music at a very important function. So we shot all of his coverage that had him in the frame with other actors who wouldn’t be able to make it to shooting the next weekend because of plays starting or traveling for work. After he left, we shot more coverage from the scenes where Damon was out of frame. We were scheduled to wrap at around 7 p.m., but had gotten through my scheduled shot list by 4. We started grabbing stuff from my day 2 list, but at 4:30 the sky finally let go and the rain we were promised showed up with a vengeance. As I’ve mentioned before, the warehouse is dilapidated. That’s why it’s such a cool location. What it isn’t, however, is waterproof. Our main shooting area was luckily out of the splash zones, but we had to quickly move the craft service table and all of our gear into the central dry section. The massive, airplane hanger-sized entrance chamber into the warehouse was a series of waterfalls from the patchy roof and the ground was quickly covered in an inch of water. The three extension cords stretching to the neighboring building were completely submerged. I headed out into the indoor monsoon and disconnected each of them. I hung the ends off of support beams to dry out over night before driving people back to their cars in the parking lot. And then we all drove home through unsafe conditions and flooded streets. There’s cell phone footage of this that will be available to donors to the Indiegogo campaign. The “Vine videos” perk has become a “shifting perspective, behind the scenes, cell phone footage” perk, and any donor over 15 dollars gets access to those videos. Campaign here! One more thing about day one. The Damon team. They’re so much fun to work with. They all give absolutely fantastic performances and they’re great to hang out with on set. Amazingly talented folks with amazing attitudes. Shooting with them is the best. We added someone else into the mix this time too and he was FANTASTIC. He brought more personality and natural ease to his character than I ever could have hoped for. I can’t wait for you guys to meet him.
Day 2- Sunday, October 6th.
Dragged ourselves from bed at 6:30 a.m. again. At this point I thought—My God. People shooting actual movies have 6 a.m. call times for months in a row. I drove to the set with a knot of tension in my stomach. By the time we’d left the night before, determined little puddles of water had begun to spread from the windows across even the dry section where we’d left most of our gear. I didn’t know what we were going to find. When I swung the massive gates wide into the entrance chamber, much of the water had already dissipated. The area we’d left our gear was totally dry and everything was workable. There were even patches of dry ground through the entrance room on which to set each extension cord connection. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, everybody showed up earlier than the day before, and we jumped back into shooting. Another day of great performances and we rocketed through my shot list. A scheduled end time of 7 p.m. again, but we wrapped cast around 4 and the crew was out at about 5:30.
We have one more mini-day of shooting in the warehouse with three of the cast members to grab single shots of dialogue and little bits that don’t have the other cast members in the frame. It should be a truncated shoot day, but I’ll have more to say about that next week.
I was reading an interview with Joss Whedon—perhaps I’ve mentioned him before—a couple weeks ago and he said something that perfectly crystallized what I’d been thinking about as I was having trouble lining up the complicated schedules of my cast: Writing is creation, directing is compromise. Every time you get to set there seems to be 10 or 20 reasons why the thing you saw in your head can’t be adequately captured on camera. Then instead of whining about it, you have to figure out what you CAN get that will service the needs of the story you’re telling. That’s how it usually is. This last weekend didn’t feel like compromise at all. It felt wonderful. We got outstanding material.
Another guy I’m constantly talking about around here is Kevin Smith. He was also talking about how adaptable independent filmmakers have to be. As he gets ready to make his next horror movie, Tusk, locations and actors kept slipping through his fingers and he had to push through the “Let’s quit and watch TV” impulse to keep pushing the project forward. It’s part of a really great ongoing piece he’s writing for The Hollywood Reporter: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kevin-smith-why-quentin-tarantino-645204
Thanks for reading.