Production Days Catch-up

I feel really sick this week, you guys. Throat hurts like nobody’s business, sore all over, and mild dizziness that comes and goes. Good thing we’ve got a long production day tomorrow!

Speaking of that, over the last few months we’ve had production days that I haven’t blogged about. So let’s get caught up.

Saturday, February 7th, we held auditions for a bunch of characters in singular scenes, all of them a couple pages long, each of them projected to shoot in a few hours in afternoons on weekends. Great casting session at Next Door Chicago, the best public meeting space in the city, as far as I’m concerned.

Saturday, February 21st, we shot a scene with three characters in a found footage style. Not something we’ve done on the show before, but it was really fun having Ryan, our DP, who expends a lot of energy making things look good, expending that energy trying to make his camera operation look extremely amateur. We shot for just under two hours, wrapped early, and I took everyone out to lunch at a Chicago pub with exceptional food. We shot the scene with our great gear and after I put in all the VFX, I spent an afternoon applying the look of an old VHS tape to the footage. It looks soooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!O!O!O!O!O!O!O!O!O!! good.

Sunday, February 22nd, not a production day, but Eliza and I spent the day driving around for PoPS. I’d had a particular piece of production design in my head for several months and we drove 90 miles round trip just to get one element for it. I always feel like I should be more specific about this stuff, but I never want to spoil anything. Also, this thing in particular I’m never going to talk about or point out to anybody. I want to see if anybody ever points it out in the comments. I think it’s one of the cooler long term planning gimmicks in the series.

Sunday, March 1st, a day in the cold. There’s always a few. A few weeks before I’d visited a potential location and the owner agreed to let us shoot there. The day we get there, he’s ready to push us out the door as fast as he can, telling us we need to make this fast before we’ve even brought all our gear in. I calmed him down with a $200 location fee (a rip-off considering how little time we actually spent inside the place), but at least we had a warm room in which to fill out our paperwork and get the interior shots we needed. This day was also as many kids as we’ve ever assembled into one scene, none of whom had we ever worked with before. Fortunately, they were all great. They were focused, their acting was fantastic, and they stood out in the cold for hours as our projected two hour shoot stretched into 4 hours. I should have known better. 4 pages=at least 4 hours. Most of the kids had to take off as soon as we wrapped, but we had dinner with one young actor and his dad. We had a good time unthawing together over warm food and taking turns huddling next to the restaurant’s fireplace.

Sunday, March 21st, having learned from the previous shoot day I scheduled this 4-page scene from noon to 5pm, with a lunch break in the middle. Luckily, we were also inside, but it was essentially 2 and a half pages of compositing VFX shots and green screen stuff, so I wanted to make sure we had a little wiggle room to address any issues. This is a scene we had scheduled for a couple weekends before when we had a last minute issue crop up and I had to totally rewrite the scene from scratch. I think the scene we ended up with is closer to my original concept for the scene, is a more emotionally interesting scene, and we ended up getting an outstanding performance from our young actress. She really nailed it. I had a tense moment leading up to this one when I sent our actresses mom the rewritten scene. It dealt a lot more in what I will call coming-of-age issues and she was concerned her 11-year-old daughter might feel uncomfortable with some of the content. Luckily for me, when this 11-year-old was approached with the scene, she reportedly said, “I’m an actress…that’s what I do…act.” So, she was fine with the whole deal. And she was awesome in it.

This weekend, we have a full Saturday of shooting some highly visual scenes and a Sunday with a couple very quick scenes. I hope I don’t pass out from dizziness while we’re doing them. That’s me being overly dramatic. But I’m a dramatist…that’s what I do…drama. Or dramedy, really. Well, it’s more comedy than drama most of the time, so…comma.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake

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