Shoot Days 15 through 21

You guys!!! I’m so behind on cataloging episode 8 shoot days. You can tell my dismay by the unabashed usage of trip-ex (That’s three exclamation points, I just invented the term. Proud.) Catch up time!!!

Day 15-Saturday, December 7th. Gathered at our place–called 2ND SANCTUM, given they blew up the THE SANCTUM in episode 3—at 10a.m. to shoot three day scenes. Had to wrap Craig by noon because he had to rehearse with his band for a show that evening. We finished with him about 15 minutes late. Shot the two other quick scenes and wrapped at 2:30p.m. It was a quick and relatively painless day. That night we went to see Craig’s band Driftless Pony Club play and it was a great time. Also, Tight Phantomz. Awesome Chicago rock band.

Day 16-Sunday, December 8th. 2ND SANCTUM. Originally, supposed to be a really long day, starting at 10 and going on into the night. Instead we had a scheduling anomaly in which Eliza had to work during all the daylight hours. Even though I fly off the handle at every last minute schedule change, this one was probably for the best. We had Craig arrive at 5p.m. to start working on a special makeup effect we needed before shooting with him and didn’t actually start rolling until 7:45p.m. because it was so hard to convincingly pull off. After I and Eliza tried to make it work, Carlyn was the one who cut the prosthetic down and made it practically perfect. Then we took the advice of the guys at K.N.B. Effects Group and covered up the least convincing part with blood. Nailed it. Shot until midnight. Notable that night: Eliza having to orchestrate a perfectly targeted blood drip from a height of about three feet using only her peripheral vision. Probably about 6 six takes. Nicely done. And our DP Ryan stripped down to sweatpants while I’m in the shower in my swimsuit. I’ll never be able to get rid of the image of him coming into the bathroom shirtless holding a camera, greeting me with “…Hey.”

Day 17-Tuesday, December 10th. 2ND SANCTUM. 7p.m. to 11:45p.m. We were short handed again so we called in new volunteer Scott to be a one-man sound team. We shot half of a really long and complicated dialogue scene. Complicated because it’s inter-cut with other small sequences and involved a lot of different camera set-ups to keep things moving over it’s many, many pages. Because of all the dialogue, we learned it in sections and then shot it. Stopped to learn the next section, shot it. On and on until it was time to call it a night.

Day 18-Wednesday, December 11th. 2ND SANCTUM. 7p.m. to 9:45p.m. Since we got more than I anticipated on the previous night, we only needed a few hours to get the rest of the scene. I’m getting a little better at consistently estimating time. A couple of our actors in this episode were just some of my non-actor friends back when we started who were willing to hop in front of the camera. They’ve both had increasingly active careers as artisans running their own businesses. So I try to keep the amount of time they’re sitting around on set to a minimum. I already feel like I’m taking up so much of their time. I called Marshall in for a 9p.m. call time. We got to his shots as he came up the stairs and I wrapped him in half an hour. Boom, sorted.

Day 19-Sunday, December 15th. A really weird and pleasant shoot day, more time sitting around than shooting. We gathered at a bar called Lake Bluff Brewing Company at 11a.m. to shoot a quick daytime scene in the hour before they opened. After that, we had a long lunch followed up by killing an hour at a Starbucks talking about movies, recycling/composting systems, sci-fi books, and watching Sellers do card tricks. At 3p.m. we arrived at our next location, Dreamland Comics. We shot a quick scene and read comics until it was dark enough to get a night exterior establishing shot of the location. At 5p.m. we headed back to the LBBC to shoot the night scene at the bar that follows the day scene we shot earlier. We had 11 extras show up–which might be a show record–and we shot from 6p.m. until about 7:15p.m. After that, we were beat. Headed home.

Day 20-Tuesday, December 17th. 2ND SANCTUM. Scheduled as 7p.m. to 11p.m., but actually finished up at about 10:45p.m. This was a scene I’d been dreading since I wrote it. It was logistically complicated, action’y, and I’d staged it all to happen in one of the smaller spaces in the apartment which narrowed our angle options (YAY!). But the first night went great. Our angles looked great, the performances were fun, and things moved along at a good clip. David was filling in as our D.P. and everything went great.

Day 21-Wednesday, December 18th. 2ND SANCTUM. 7p.m. to 11:15pm.. The second night of the same sequence. Some nights are just hard and every shot feels like an unnecessarily complicated battle. Part of the problem was that all of the VFX shots were scheduled for this night. Ryan rightly pointed out that those shots would be better handled on a tripod, so set-ups just took a little more time. Added to that, there was some really emotionally tricky stuff going on for the actors. We had some tough dialogue and it took a long time to find a rhythm and emotional energy that worked. The final shot especially. It was a long, dialogue’y take with a really tricky emotional balance and a need to be properly paced. 33 takes later we got it. That might be the most takes on a shot this episode. We must have been doing that one shot for an hour or more. We’d also made a huge mess for the scene too. It took Eliza and I an hour and a half after wrap to clean it up. We finally sat down at around 12:45a.m. I was exceedingly grumpy and had to keep reminding myself that I was doing this to myself and that our shots look awesome, so cheer up.

All caught up!!! No more shooting ’til January. This morning I felt like I woke up on the first day of Winter Break. I haven’t felt that since school. It was a great feeling to head off to work with.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake.

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