PoPS 9 Week 2-Big Production Week

Ordinarily, we try to limit nights & weekends shooting to two weeknights and a weekend day. Three nights a week is a manageable production schedule for people with full time jobs. This week, however, due to the way actors schedules are all lined up, we did five shoot nights. Let’s break it down.

Monday, November 10, 7pm-11:30pm. I continued the trend of offering people who want to show up a half hour early a free dinner and we’ve been ordering from places that are between where I work and our apartment so I can grab it on the way home. That night we had Chipotle. We were shooting a lot of scenes were Carlyn has to play opposite herself, so we had Eliza in a wig for the over-the-shoulders and only about four shots where we had to lock down the camera to have her change outfits to play both characters in the same shot. I color-coded the shotlist at Eliza’s suggestion, which was a brilliant idea. That way we were able to shoot most of one outfit, then the other, and it really saved us a lot of time where the girls would have to be changing. It was a little stop-and-start feeling because of all the back and forth we were doing with her playing both characters. Given some of the complicated things we were dealing with, I’m surprised we only ran a half hour late. A good shoot night.

Tuesday, November 11, 7pm-10pm. Started the night off with some Chinese food from right down the street from our place. Awesome portions for the price, I had lunch the next day too. This night was all of the scenes that take place in our tiny bathroom. There weren’t a lot, so we wrapped quite early. Originally I had this shoot double booked with another block of scenes, but when Craig had to go out of town for work, we were shuffling to grab any scenes we could shoot in the apartment that didn’t have him in them.

Wednesday, November 12, 7pm-11pm. Soups, salads, and sandwiches from Panera. We started by picking up a couple of things from our first night of shooting. A shot of an actor who wears very reflective sunglasses, this time without catching our director of photography in the reflection. And the really hard Glidecam shot. I finally had to settle for getting most of it in the Glidecam and then cutting to a wide for the resolution of the scene. The integrity of what I wanted to see is still intact and I’m using an inline edit with the wide to really jar the viewer into the changing situation. Then we moved on into the bulk of the pages in the apartment and shut it down at 11pm, since we were at a good stopping point and we were going to be in the same space for two more nights.

Friday, November 13, 7pm-11pm. Chipotle again. This time for two reasons, 1: It’s delicious. 2: They have an awesome online group ordering system where everybody can order their own thing from their own computer and I just pay for it once everybody’s orders are in. This was a tough night. I’ve had a couple times when I’ve been frustrated on set because of various factors. This was one such occasion. Since a lot of this episode takes place in the main characters’ apartment, I wanted to try and keep things visually interesting with some good camera moves. Unfortunately, they’re really hard to get in our small space and the rolling of the dolly is very VERY audible on the largely creaky wooden floors of our apartment. After many many takes of one of these tracking shots, I finally scrapped it, but I was obviously frustrated and settling for less than I wanted. That’s a real mood-killer on a no budget set. So we moved on and wrapped halfheartedly at 11. This might be a good time to mention that despite my frustrations, we have a great group of actors who are doing an amazing job. Some new people are exceeding my expectations, and all the old standbys are really going for it and embodying their characters. As far as crew goes, people are trying to work us in to their very busy schedules as much as possible and splitting up different nights so that we at least have one of the core people available for crewing. There are just a lot of projects going on in our group now and PoPS isn’t anyone’s first priority anymore. Still, we soldier on. Not to mention the amazing people we’ve had volunteering for the first time. It slows us down a little bit with people having to learn a new skill set every night, suddenly put in positions of very high priority. I think we’ve taught four new people how to operate sound when they appear on our set for the first time so far. It’s just really nice that people are willing to come help us out.

Saturday, November 14. 5pm-11pm. Since it was Saturday, we could start as soon as it got dark and I delayed dinner until about halfway through the night. This was a miracle night. So far in production, we’d only had two nights where we’d gotten everything on the shooting list. In order to get back on schedule, we had to shoot about 13 pages of dialogue in 6 hours. It was about 2 and a half pages of camera setups. After the tracking shot problems of the night before, I woke up Saturday morning determined to cut out all the tracking shots from my shotlist and replace them with meaningful pans, racking focus, and mid-dialogue edits, thereby still heightening the experience and drawing audience attention to relationships and important moments, but without all the never-ending frustration of attempting tracking shots in our apartment with brand new crew members. We hit the ground running just after 5:30pm, paused for a dinner from Noodles and Co. just after 8pm, and wrapped up everything we had scheduled pretty much at 11pm exactly. And just like that, we’re back on schedule. It was awesome. Everyone was really worn out by the end of the night, but everyone perked up nicely whenever the camera was pointed at them, so we were able to get 13 pages in 6 hours.

Eliza and I planned to grab one little shoot night this week with Carlyn in the city—a quick 10-second scene that would only take a half hour to shoot—but I came down with a mega cold. Luckily, it’s stayed out of my brain so far, so I can still work and plan and everything, but it’s nothing I want to take with me into a night shoot for even a half hour. I think I’d only get sicker.

So we’re down for a week before we get another shoot night, but it’s a nice little section of calm in the middle of the storm.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake

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