Tuesday, January 26, 2010

a few days later

I have the very good fortune to be going on vacation for a wk plus starting tomorrow meaning i won't be anywhere near the computer or script or anything related at all to the shoot. this is essential. i need a wall put up between the shoot (the things i missed, the shots i screwed up, the things i settled for) and post (the things i have). not sure yet of the particulars but i'm planning to fly evonne up to cut this over a few days.

saturday, the day i wrapped, after shooting, i was head in the clouds, feet off the ground, feeling so high and humming w/ the accomplishment of finishing. the very next day i felt a sort of mid-range depression settle in. something akin to post-partum. i was reminded that i did the exact same thing on the last one.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

shoot, day 2

Again, scattered, unordered:

yesterday's shoot was easier on one level - a lot of quick takes, insert shots - more complicated on another - 3 company moves.
again w/ the bare-bonesiest of crew (dp, me, margaret) and mostly 2 cast, the husband and wife. we started at parking garage of local hospital. the facility contact was willing to be an extra so i put him in white lab coat and had him cross behind the husband and wife as they exited hospital. the day before i re-envisioned the elevator shots, the closing shots of the movie, and realized i could nail it in just 3 shots, provided certain things (camera focus, elevator idle time) could be managed. they were workable and it all went swimmingly. last shot is a close-up on a baby, zooming past into a medium close-up of husband and wife in elevator looking out as doors close. took a few takes to get it but we got it. this shoot, compared w/ last week, i relied almost zero on the video playback (except in one instance to verify that a set of keys looked correct in the frame) and went w/ my instinct after/during watching takes. several times, this shoot and last wknd, things happened close to what i envisioned in my head. almost strangely so. it was too easy some times. i don't know if this is attributable to luck, to good planning, to proper dp and cast or the combination of all, but whatever alchemy we had was humming. i'm going to take a couple wks off, go on vacation, and not look at the footage until i return. otherwise i'll just tinker and mess w/ it. need to put up a wall between then and now.
feels great to have this wrapped.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

shoot, day 1

these are random, uncollected thoughts so bear w/ me:

day 1 of shoot is done. day 2 is next saturday. this was big though b/c a) 1st day of shoot b) shooting at location that took me months to finally nail down the particulars of. i had been worried about crew size, ie next to nil, since a problem on 'good food' was not enough crew, but it all worked out. given the tiny exam room (where we shot probably over half the day) and further given the facility contact who was hyper-concerned w/ the machinations and movement of every crew and cast member lest they accidently touch, move, brush against, or otherwise come in contact with any file, sign, item and alter it - it worked out to have such a small group. It was the DP and his assistant (for lack of better, she was also at various times, boom operator, script supervisor, footage logger) and that's it. Plus margaret who fetched coffee and lunch and tried to calm/reassure facility contact throughout day. Plus me, plus 5 cast members. We wrapped 2 cast members in short order and then moved into exam room.

for this one, versus 'good food', i found that i have more long shots, wides and/or masters that i'm going to hold in the edit. ie, less master then covered w/ singles on each person. it just kind of happened this way but it feels appropriate to the characters/scenario of this. had a on-set idea to pull away from man/wife as they're walking down hall - post doc exam - and since walking w/ camera was too shaky we put dp and camera in an office chair and i pulled back after action, running, as dp was zooming out. looks great.

couple self-criticisms: i'm learning that my focus ebbs as the day goes on. after the meal on this film and last, my mind gets more diluted w/ what we've shot already and it's harder to remember what i need versus, what we've rehearsed, versus, what we get. in keeping w/ that, i find myself settling for things that work versus things that soar. also, i felt like maybe i'm too vocal in giving notes to cast in front of everyone. maybe that should be reined in a bit.

all in all, a great day. cast all worked, location worked, shots look great. can't wait to shoot next saturday and
begin putting it together

Friday, January 15, 2010

eve of shoot

I have the lab coat, friend has the scrubs (i'll retrieve tonight), we've mapped out routes to coffee and lunch, i have everything on the prop list or at least will have it by tomorrow am. been in touch w/ cast for items they're going to bring. oh, procured insurance today! a giant step. further, the insurance covers me (ie the company) for the next 12 months so any further location needs in the productions in the coming year are covered.

intermixed w/ all this planning this week was the strange synchronicity (if that indeed is the correct word for this instance) to receive the final cut from editor of movie i directed - good food - last june. of all weeks. it's allowed me to look at the two films back to back, isolating certain ambitious leaps from that to this, certain directorial approaches from that to this, and so on. very fortuitous. And, i suppose, emboldening. onward.

energy level permitting i'll attempt to put up some notes and thoughts tommorow night

Thursday, January 14, 2010

frenzy, whirlwind

shooting in less than 48 hrs. nailed down set of scrubs (i'll p/u tomorrow) and having white lab coat overnighted to me at work tomorrow. yesterday went back to hospital for walkthru w/ facility contact and dp. everything looks solid
except the exam room has one giant blue wall. i'm positive it did not when i first scouted in oct which means we were shown diff exam rm yesterday which means i'll need to try and negotiate that point out on shoot day and see if we can move back to blue wall-less exam rm OR find some way to narratively use a giant wall of concentrated deep blue which thus far i have been coming up empty on.

further, hospital contact is insistent on liability insurance (contrary to what i presumed in last post). i got quote yesterday from local insurer $380. yowza. i cannot afford that. got another quote from insurer $500. finally talked w/ person who does our home insurance and she's able to issue me business insurance but
only in year long increments, for 350$. The good is that i can pay these on a monthly basis. meeting w/ her tomorrow AM and have been assured that i'll leave w/ documentation that I can present to hospital contact.

i was last told that hospital rental fee would be 500$ but yesterday she said the sooner we wrap on sat, the lower the rate we'll be charged. that's good news i think. should have ample time to shoot the scenes we need, giant underline on word 'should'.

made out prop list of needed items for saturday, still have a few i need to procure. tick tock.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

closer still...

many things humming now, balls up in the air, train running on the tracks. Hospital location confirmed for shooting next saturday. at first they were going to allow only a 1/2 day of shooting, apparently to offset their generosity at lowering the fee so much but for whatever reason - after i sent the draft of a location agreement to them, praying that they had forgotten about the million dollar insurance policy they wanted me to take out - they said 'we're all set'. perfect. doing a walk thru later this wk w/ hospital facility contact and DP and some things - start time, staging areas etc - will firm up then.

had rehearsal yesterday at house. actually DP came 1st at 11 am. went over storyboards, discussed possible ways to shoot certain things, camera mounts, wide-angle lens for very tight space that has slight distortion around edge of frame etc. we're on the same page on pretty much everything. he allowed that if he has a flaw it's his propensity to take a long time during lighting. i don't think that's an unusual trait among dp's.

2 cast, man and wife characters, arrived an hr later. we went thru script beat by beat and ran a few scenes. i have played this script in my head hundreds of times and am keenly attuned to any variance, for better or worse. hence when they have an idea about how to play something, which may be a perfectly valid instinctual approach, i have to find a way to show them what i'm thinking w/o doing line readings. it can be a challenge, even w/ great actors, but it certainly lays at my feet. further, i'm forced to consider whether my reaction is against what's best for the film or what's in my head. What's in my head is, by now, an empty construct. A blueprint at best. So, I have to allow for actors to find something i hadn't thought of, which may actually improve or better what I thought would happen. further, there will be on set rehearsals, in character, w/ actions most times, which will again, change the shape of the original.

An hr later the Dr character showed. The 4 of us sat around the table and repeated the same process: going thru the scene - the big 5 minute in a room scene - beat by beat, then reading thru. Same thing happened. I had to find ways to explain certain beats and what i was going for w/o line reading. I fear I got sidetracked in clouds of abstraction and may have at times, done the line reading, albeit in a conversational way. that's on me. in any case, we got through it. ran it a few more times
and by the last time it was humming. the actors 'get' it. as does the dp. very excited to shoot now.

funny, an hr before day started i was nervous about it. nothing really to be nervous about but i couldn't wait until it was over. i kept putting my mind toward later in the day when we could watch a movie or go to dinner or anything but rehearse. at some point a strand of thought floated in, if i was meant to direct i would not think this way, i'd be excited to rehearse. Thinking like that, aside from being common to me, can quickly metastasize, threatening to undermine everything as it doubles, triples in size. it's another way for the mind to diminish your own undertakings. During the rehearsals i was able to silence that voice and by 4 pm i was humming and buzzing w/ excitement about the shoot, so much so that i couldn't concentrate while i tried to watch a movie. that earlier strand had all but dissolved. remember this for the next one.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

tight space

holy crap. just dawned on me this afternoon that 5 straight min of the movie are in a teeny tiny hospital exam room. 3 actors. plus camera and boom and director. i am suddenly nervous as shit about how to pull this off. going to split the scene into three segments, for narrative sake and for shooting sake, but then need to determine what will distinguish - if anything - shooting approach from one segment to the next. it's a chess match between patients and doctor. triangle. doctor at apex, patients at base - but if we shoot that direction, there is very little to do, very few places for camera to go. consider keeping camera on patient who has little dialogue while doctor and other patient run down a list of informations. what does that get me?

Monday, January 4, 2010


Things tightening. Shooting in less than 2 wks. rehearsing w/ dp and actors this wknd. yesterday i sat down to start storyboarding and immediately hit a snag in my visualization of the opening and started rewriting script. minor changes but it was necessary for me to see it first. i filled the last two speaking roles but i still need to find a couple w/ a newborn willing to let me film them. if you know someone be sure to let me know. still need to get a couple wardrobe items, plan craft service and transport to hospital location. the final shot of the movie is a couple stepping in to an elevator while said couple w/ newborn exit. i know the exact elevator i want and have been toying w/ the idea of merely stealing the shot but this am i called the facility and am now waiting for them to give me a ruling.

bulk of movie features couple talking w/ doctor in exam room. i'm trying something slightly risky in that i'm going to rehearse them separately. that is, i'm rehearsing couple w/ a reader filling in for doc, and rehearsing doc w/ a reader filling in for couple. this is more than a scheduling snarl, well it started as one, but it fits the movie, since the whole scene is a power trip, a chess match between doc and patient, w/ doc having upper hand, that it seems appropriate (if risky) to have them meet for the first time on set. I'm going to tell them to run the scene w/o stopping even if they screw up their lines, and the dp will try and get what he gets. if it - or any part of it works - then it'll really work, at least in theory. it could be an epic disaster but that's on me i guess. the actors are all great. they can handle it.

storyboarding and working w/ sag to get waiver for one sag performer. fortunately they have a low-budget option, unfortunately it's supposed to be in to them 3 wks before production starts. I sent it in anyway, waiting to hear. also, need to get pix developed, matted, framed to hang on wall in couple's house. go, go, go.