Today was a day with relatively few scenes and setups to shoot. However, with one of those scenes being one long continuous shot, there would be much planning and lighting many many many takes. Our whole morning was dedicated to pulling off this otherwise relatively simple tracking shot.
First, I took my coffee and my laptop and found a corner to sit and re-write the first day's scene. At the end of yesterday's shoot, I had decided that this particular scene needed some work. I'd hoped to get the rewrites done last night, but I was blogging to you good people.
I hammered out the rewrites, handed the laptop to our production manager, Matt, so he could print copies for me and the actors. After interrupting the actors rehearsal of the old version of the scene to give them the new one, I began to run through it with them several times. This is not a fair thing to do to your actors minutes before they work, but I ultimately feel this was the best way I could serve them.
Next, we crammed most of our production and gear into the back half of this 19th century West Village apartment. People and stuff filled the back two rooms to the brim. Air conditioners must remain off while shooting so we can record quality sound. Makes for an incredibly stuffy and uncomfortable environment, especially when you have huge lights heating up each room. At the front of the apartment, lights and electrical rigging were placed strategically throughout as the shot would show the full length of a hallway, two rooms, and ultimately the front door. The art department (Marie and Andrew) covered the hot set from head to toe in detailed dressing and monitored picture frames that might reflect any of Zak's many light sources.
Once everything was in place, everyone cleared set to let me block the movement of the actors through the space. After getting a sense of the flow of things, I watched from the monitor as Zak and his dolly grip rehearsed the timing of the moves to follow the actors. Once we felt brave enough, we jumped into filming. It was three pages of dialogue, large-move blocking, and no coverage. Talk about a lot to think about. After about fifteen takes, we got it. Then I we did about nine more just to make sure. After the twenty-fourth take, we broke for lunch.
This was the first day I took a few minutes to run outside and see the sky for a minute while the rest of the team was on a break. We are doing "walk away" lunches which means that instead of catering the shoot, we hand out lunch money and give the crew more time to go out and get whatever they want wherever they want. It's a good system that suits our production model. I've been spending most of my lunch breaks talking about schedules, finances, and producer stuff. I need to start making a concerted effort to actually walk away during this walk-away lunch.
After the food settled into my stomach and seemingly drained all of my energy for the purpose of digestion, we were back at it. We tore through the afternoon setups, all of which were relatively simple and straightforward compared to the shot we'd done earlier. The only real challenge was to move a couple of scenes around in the schedule to suit the time constraints of both camera and HMU (hair and makeup). If one setup suits two different scenes with the same actor, we will likely keep the camera where it is and wait for the actor to change an outfit. If an actor has an outfit or look that takes a long while to prepare, then we will sometimes shoot everything requiring that costume before moving on. It is a constant juggle of priorities.
Rather than overreaching and trying to shoot any more scenes, we wrapped the day around 5:30pm. I'm a big fan of making the most out of my day, but with grueling 6-day weeks, it's good to shorten the days where we can.
Home now. Footage logged. Judged. Hated. Loved. Blog blog blog blog. Goodnight!