Set Dreams 2

I’ve spoken previously of set dreams, but I recently revisited the post and it’s abysmally short. I must have been in some kind of rush, because they’re worth more examination. Mine have started up again as well, so they’re on my mind.

First off, when discussing set dreams, carefully monitor your pronunciation. It’s the same problem I had when working for a set construction shop. I’d tell people I worked in a set shop and they’d think I was involved in the pornography and sexual aids trade. I’d always try to avoid that particular conversation by saying I worked in a “seT shop, a seT-T-T shop,” lots of heavy emphasis on the T and hitting it multiple times. Of course, then people probably thought I had a speech impediment, so…there it is. You could probably leapfrog the problem of people thinking you’re talking about an different genre of dream by calling them “production dreams,” but they’re colloquially known as set dreams.

My first set dream came toward the end of a really grueling horror feature shoot. We were on for 13 days straight, mostly nights—no weekends, no breaks, to try and get the most out of our camera package. Our shortest day ran about 14 hours, our longest ran 21 hours. At around day 10 or 11 I had a set dream. In the dream, I was in my bed when the crew came in and starting setting up lights and camera, getting ready to shoot a scene in the bedroom. Everybody hustled around, framing up for the bed, all while I was telling them that this scene wasn’t on the schedule, it wasn’t even in the script. No one paid attention to me and continued in their tasks. I went to set the next night and told our DP about it. He said, “Oh, you had a set dream,” and that was the first I’d heard of it.

I’ve had them for PoPS before. But they’ve only just started up again. They seem to have amped up more now that most of the really stressful shooting on episode 8 is behind me, which I think is pretty surprising. I can remember two off hand, but there’ve been at least three in the last month.

The first came after a really low-stress shoot day. Again, the location was my bedroom. I was trying to sleep, but a couple of the crew members were trying to set up a shoot in the bed. They had the camera on the shoulder rig and were trying to light a simple visual sequence in the dark bedroom using only a strand of white Christmas lights. I was really interested in trying to make it work too, because the look we were getting was really cool. We were f-stopped wide open and had to use a really high iso, but it didn’t look grainy at all. It was a series of blown out hotspots and a really soft glow around the rest of the frame. It made faces look really cool. Even while I was getting sucked into the lovely result, I was annoyed that we were shooting this scene. I was positive it didn’t have a place in the episode and I knew I hadn’t scheduled this shoot. That was the whole dream. I think partial responsibility for it goes to the fact that I’d been watching a lot of the featurettes on the American Girl with the Dragon Tattoo blu-ray, and Fincher can keep a pretty dark set. Man, I wish he would direct an American version of ..Played with Fire. He’d nail that book.

The other one had us on a farm. It came after no shooting. We had just wrapped for December and were looking at two stress-free weeks of not shooting. Why would a set dream happen at that point? On the farm we were setting up behind the barn on a playground swing set. In addition to the regular crew, my Mom and Dad were there. It was taking forever for us to get started and my Mom kept asking me what was taking so long. We finally got everything set up, everyone was in their places, and night fell immediately. Since it was a day scene, we couldn’t shoot and I told everybody to head home. That was the whole thing.

Set dreams, y’all. Weirdness. I think that second one mostly has to do with the weather complications we’ve encountered throughout shooting. We’ve been shut down and rescheduled a few times.

In other news, on Christmas Eve I finally cut some of the episode together. It’s a little bit of an adjustment period because I’m cutting this one on Premiere instead of Final Cut Pro, so it took me a couple minutes to figure out how to balance our location audio, but I have a couple minutes of the episode put together finally and it feels really great. I’m going to work on it some more tonight.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake

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