Day 3 Production Blog
"Fuck the shield"
OK, today's a critical day. The rest of the week looks like this: Thursday, my special effects team, GornFX, is showing up so we have to do fx work while they're here. I'm paying these guys so I have to use them everyday to make it work. Also, Friday and Saturday are the only days where I have 3 of my actors- Einar, Marleah, and Dmitry. The first two work during the week and Dmitry's is in school so they've all taken Friday off and I have them for Saturday too. Dmitry is 14 years old, so I deal directly with his mother, Irene. She's such a nice lady! So today is the day I have to finish things up to make room for all the shots and fx that'll take place in from Thursday to Saturday. David, my Captain Dack, isn't here today again! I'm forced to change some of the blocking so that Calvin, my brother-in-law, assumes some of the actions that I originally had Captain Dack doing. So now, when my main character, Lee, falls to the ground, Calvin's character helps him up. Small things like this change, but they end up effecting all sorts of blocking issues for the rest of the story. To make it worth his while, I add in a stunt where Calvin's character gets thrown into a pile of boxes and dies.
Crap I just realized that I forgot to get a SWAT shield from Weapon Specialists! In the scene directly before the warehouse, Warnock, my soldier who's point man on the team sports a bulletproof SWAT shield as he charges the door of the warehouse. We filmed at scene on December 17th when I had the shield. Without the shield, it'll be a huge continuity issue in the film if it just disappears once he's inside the warehouse. "Is this an issue I really need to worry about right now," I wonder, "I've got a gazillion other things to worry about like how I'm going to get all the shots down this week! Fuck the shield!" Hmmm that thought gives me a great idea. Warnock's character has evolved through rehearsals from a wisecracking soldier to the seasoned badass of the team. I'll just insert a random scene where our main character, Lee, asks Warnock where his shield is. Warnock will just say, "Fuck the shield" as a reply. I run this by Joe who plays Warnock and he loves it. For the rest of the shoot, when continuity issues arise, we just say, "Fuck the ____", laugh, and move on.
Nathan Faudree, my actor who plays Major Huron, is on set for the first time since the December 17th shoot. He is nothing short of a Bruce Campbell and Jim Carrey hybrid. He's as entertaining to watch on screen as Carrey, but has the badass flavor of Campbell. He makes all my techno-babble dialogue sound great and he shines today. Since I don't have him on set everyday, I try to make the most of it and film all his conversations with Einar (my Diplomat) without Einar on set. This works ok since I just have someone else standing in for eyelines reading dialogue, but I later find out it'll be a cause of huge "crossing the line" issues.
Did I mention how DAMN COLD IT IS? There's no heat in the warehouse and everyone huddles together in the Greenroom. We have a wimpy heater that occasionally needs to be unplugged because there's not much electrical capacity in the warehouse and we need it all for some of the lighting set ups. I barely feel the temperature cuz I'm running around. At least the cold numbs my sprained finger. It only hurts when I warm up in the car after the shoot. Two of my fingernails have begun to peel off the tips of my fingers. It's from lifting lights and stands without gloves in the cold. They only hurt when I wash my hands or when I try to type the shot list at night.
The morale seems to be holding up around the set. I haven't had much time to hang out with the cast and crew because I'm either directing, lighting, or planning the next set up while everyone's eating. Calvin is a Godsend. He's brought his coffee machine to set that keeps people warm. If I need a boom operator, he's the man. His driving people to and from set alone makes him worth more than his weight in gold. For a shot I needed the Combat Mech to pound a soldier repeatedly on the chest. Calvin was that soldier and at one point Rob, the Mech, plants one right on Cal's cheek. Rob's a bodybuilder with a 51" chest. Thanks Cal! I lucked out with the cast and crew. They're all cool people and I wish I could have more time to hang with them and play with the guns. Cal says he's going to bring his friend, Dave, tomorrow to help out.
We wrap and on my drive home, I realize that I have a small part of a bodyguard that I don't have an actor for. It was a small part I figured I'd just ask a friend to play but never got around to it. Shit! I know, I'll ask Dave, Cal's friend, to do it. I don't have a costume for him though! Shit! I know, I'll raid my closet and pull something out of it. Not the best planning, but hey, this is my first time -why do I have the feeling this last minute thing is going to happen again later? "I have a bad feeling about this" (Star Wars reference #2).
The dailies look great! For all his querky behavior and obscenity-laced conversation, Patryk knows how to light! He introduces a great subtle green light in the backgrounds to enhance the sci-fi look of the film. Together we come up with some great framing and compositions. This is my first time working with a DP and I can appreciate what they say about the relationship - trust is absolutely crucial. I only met Patryk a couple of weeks ago, but by the end of the shoot we're affectionately swearing at each other when we're not blazing ahead with cool angles and camera movements.
Tonight while going through the shot list, I decide I need to extend hours a bit. Originally, Friday was a noon to 8pm shoot. Dmitry, my 14-year-old actor, is only free after school at 2:30pm so I slid the shooting hours. I send an email to the cast/crew extending it so that it's 10am to 8pm on Friday. Not the end of the world I know, but I don't want to have a cranky cast/crew.
I'm halfway through the shoot now- 3 days done, 3 days to go. I print out a shot list that includes all the remaining shots of week with tomorrow's highlighted. I need to make sure we can finish shooting this film! The last 2 days of shooting must be dedicated to Einar, Marleah, and Dmitry. I have to finish with the majority of my soldiers' shots by tomorrow!! I begin to label and structure my shot lists with what actors are in what shots as well.