Week 1 of Shooting: A Recap
Boom. The first week of shooting is complete. I’ll do my best to write about it, though I have limited time and no real outline of what to say.
It’s been years since I’ve felt such an incredibly wide spectrum of emotions in such a short span of time. It’s reached the point where I’m dreaming about directing–in one such dream, I just wore a hat and ordered random friends around my living room until it “looked right.” While directing, it’s easy to get swallowed up and overwhelmed by all that’s happening around you, and even when things are going well, it’s tempting to obsess over the things that aren’t according to plan. Yet those moments of despair are countered by the thrills of creative expression and unprecedented control over such an enormous project. Minute by minute, I honestly couldn’t tell you whether there’s more anxiety or excitement. Maybe I’ll have a better idea when it’s over.
The first day of shooting was a triumph overall. After about 3 hours of sleep, I woke up, got myself a coconut mocha or frappuccino or something from Starbucks (I highly recommend this beverage, whatever it’s actually called, to sleep-deprived filmmakers the world over; it’s been a lifesaver on a couple occasions), and helped prepare the house. We shot five scenes, spread out over three rooms and about a hundred pages of our script. We had fortunately determined all our shots in advance, but still had to set up lights and sound for each scene, which is a daunting task. Fortunately our crew performed admirably, and thanks to everyone’s awesome efforts, we finished shooting a half our before our scheduled end-time (though, admittedly, we had scheduled an especially long day to start out). We had to reshoot one of our scenes later in the week due to technical issues, but four out of five on our first day is nothing to shake a stick at (or a boom pole, if I felt like throwing lame film jokes into this blog, which apparently I do).
There’s been a powerful learning curve. We were slowed down by a few organizational and technical issues on our first day, but after each shoot, we always make sure to sit down and discuss how things could be improved for the next shoot. Already, we’ve become a much faster, more skilled, more cohesive team, with a better understanding of the challenges that can befall a set and how to deal with them.
So far we’ve done all our shooting here at Bleu Haus. We’ve had to delay a few scenes here and there, but at this point we’re very happy with everything that we’ve shot. Our greatest difficulty so far has been filming the St. Patrick’s Day Party, a 20-or-so-page monster of a megascene which introduces most of our cast and sets up the revelry to follow, as well as the mystery that drives it all forward. We strategically placed extras to make the party look full (an illusion that will be complete once we place the crowd noises we captured on set) and practically buried our house in balloons/streamers/cups/beers/shot glasses/silly string to get it ready. The whole experience was so exciting, nerve-wracking, fast-paced and unfamiliar that it eerily resembled my feelings at my first IRL college party. Weird.
We were able to shoot another scene concurrently with our party pickups (one of many advantages to having two people on set who can direct) that I’m quite excited about. In spite of what appeared to be a miniature snowstorm (which made no sense but happened anyway), we lit the contents of a barrel on fire and had our fictional party guests gather around it to drink, socialize, dance and generally have a sick time. It’ll be quite a spectacle on the big screen.
It’s fortunate that my first feature film is a comedy. In spite of all the excitement, there have been times when it’s been easy to succumb to exhaustion. When a hug from the plush T-Rex doesn’t quite do the job, I’m always cheered up by the brilliant, hilarious performances of our cast. These actors are doing a phenomenal job bringing the script to life, and sometimes bringing their own lines into the mix while still maintaining the emotional core of each scene.
When the days are particularly long and hard, it rejuvenates me to view the dailies, because I’m reminded of the great results that come from our hard work. It gets me excited to shoot even more. I can’t fully express how excited I am to see the finished film and release it to the world, at which point it will belong to all y’all. On to Week 2. Get pumped.
P.S: feel free to comment with any questions about this production, or what I’m discovering about filmmaking in general. I’d like this blog to be an educational look behind the scenes if possible, and could probably get into more detail on certain subjects if pressed. Thanks; I hope you’re enjoying the blog.