Today was an unusual day of shooting. With a last-minute shuffle of the schedule yesterday, we blindly chose our location for today's filming. We had a few outdoor dialogue scenes to knock out along with single sides of a phone conversations. Everything today should have been fairly straight forward and easy stuff, and it was except for the fact that we were outside and in the heart of downtown Manhattan. With the occasional battle of light rain, traffic noise, and pedestrians looking into the lens, we did pretty well.
The main bulk of the day was scheduled for a long scene with very specific dialogue and pacing. I wanted to capture the better part of the scene in one long take, so we had to plan things out a bit. The camera was mounted on a tripod and preset for the actors' ending position. Then, we mapped out the simple blocking pattern and ran the scene. Because the scene has such fast, and sometimes syncopated dialogue, it was important to use the camera as a casual observer of the action as opposed to adding much movement to the scene.
We spent most of the day doing take after take of the 4 page scene. Because we weren't doing any coverage or single shots to edit around to cut up the scene, we had to nail the thing all the way through. If we managed to flawlessly get our way through 3.9 pages but screwed up the last two lines, the take was no good. Whenever one does a shot like this, it's a hunt for perfection. Usually, one can "perfect" the performance of a scene in the edit. In our case today, it was up to the actors.
After countless takes throughout the day, we finally walked away with several good options. I haven't seen everything yet, but I feel good about where we wrapped the day. We stopped a little earlier then I would have liked, but we had little choice as the park manager of where we were shooting was starting to raise his minimum for a "suggested donation".
So that was the bulk of our day. Tonight is some serious prep for tomorrow. With a last-minute swap of a major location for the film, Alex, Marie, Nicole, Pete, and Andrew are all dressing the new location and paint walls. Lots of scrambling fun while I log footage, blog, and go through tomorrow's scenes.
Only a few more days to go before we wrap principal photography. For some reason it still feels like the bulk of the work is ahead of me. I'm sure this time next week it will all be a blur, but like the rest of this process, I can only take it one day at a time, one scene at a time, and one shot at a time.