So, continuing with The Long Way… The first weekend (November 6th-7th), we shot all of our exterior scenes. I was glad we got these out of the way first because it only gets colder as November goes by and we were lucky enough to have overcast skies both days. Film majors dream of overcast days because that means you don’t have to worry about shadows (boom poles are a big one) or lighting continuity between shots. Although we froze our butts off during the shoot we had a great first weekend.
All of the set pictures from The Long Way are a combination of Julian, Peter, David and my photos.
This is a ridiculous picture from one of the first shots on Saturday the 6th. Julian wanted a backwards tracking shot (walking in front of the actors looking at their faces) from the doorway to the street. However… there was 30 feet of cement, then 9 stairs and then the street. Normally. professional productions would use a steadicam (see below) for this kind of shot. With a steadicam, the camera is a free-floating extension of your body and you have a small monitor, which means you can, for example, walk up the stairs sideways and still be able to see what you’re filming.
However, we were not afforded this luxury. So, Julian, Peter and I figured out how to do one of the craziest shots I’ve ever seen in my life. I walked backwards while Julian held onto my ribs and looked behind him over his shoulder. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried walking up stairs backwards without looking– I hadn’t– but I quickly learned that it is ridiculously hard. We rehearsed this several times without the camera, and despite Julian’s best intentions, his guidance often led me to fall backwards on top of him. So, we had Peter hold onto the camera’s handle on top just in case I fell during the shot. We did the shot in 5 takes and by the end I was exhausted. Did I mention that with all the film and accessories this camera weighs over 30 pounds? I was terrified to see how this shot looked when the film got back, but it actually looks AWESOME. If you hadn’t heard me talk about how absurdly difficult it was, you would never know. It looks weirdly natural.
After lunch on Saturday, we shot the stabbing sequence in an alley. Above is a picture of David, our sound guy. If you guys want some official film lingo, everyone calls the fuzzy thing at the end of the boom “the dead cat.” So if you hear anyone on set talking about the dead cat, you know what they’re talking about (we hope).
The stabbing sequence was rather complicated because we had to fake Chris’s motion to stab Miles without getting blood on Miles or stabbing him (that’s very important). The night before, Julian, Terrence and I made up a huge batch of fake blood (a combination of corn syrup, red, blue, green, orange and pink food coloring, coffee creamer and flour) for the scene.
This is only a fraction of the blood we made. Unfortunately the first weekend it didn’t look that realistic. On film it looks believable enough. However, when we filmed the scene that requires the majority of the blood two weeks later, it had kind of coagulated in a way and it looked disturbingly real.
Rob (on the left), Matt (middle), Julian (middle) and I (right) discuss our plans for the stabbing sequence. This sequence also required a lot of backwards tracking, but luckily I was walking on solid ground and not upstairs. At the end of the day, my shoulder was COMPLETELY worn out. If I ever get hired to work on a professional project and have to hold such a heavy camera up on my shoulder for so many days, I will lift weights at the gym for months in preparation. Same goes for being a boom operator. I don’t see how David does it! Arms of steel, I suppose.
The second day of shooting, we started out the morning at our “crime scene,” or Julian’s old house with caution tape on the front of it. Here’s the depressing reality of working on set: Julian drove me, Peter and David to the house to set up (we couldn’t actually go in the house– he doesn’t live there anymore). Julian went back to his current apartment (10 min away) to pick up the actors and the producer. So, as to be expected, the camera and sound people sat in the freezing cold while the actors sipped their lattes in the comfort of Julian’s warm apartment. Haha, no it really wasn’t that bad. I just wish I could operate a camera with gloves on. I would have worn my heavy, full-length wool jacket, but the shoulders of the coat are so stiff that I physically can’t lift my arms up high enough to hold the camera on my shoulder! So I was left with a more flexible but less warm fall coat.
Julian does we he does best– yell at people. Just joking, Julian, that only looks like what you’re doing. Luckily Julian planned the crime scene well and shooting went fairly quick. For my first film this semester, I found an actor on craigslist who recently got out of the military. Jason was great to work with on my shoot, so we decided he would be perfect for the cop in this film as well. One of the things that caught my eye about Jason when I was looking for actors for my film is that in “special abilities” on his resume, it listed “ripping small phone books in half.” Unfortunately, I forgot to bring a phone book to set, because that would’ve been awesome to see.
After the crime scene, we headed over to a gas station to film one of the first scenes in the film. The gas station owner was very willing to let us film there but his one restriction made it difficult– don’t get any logos in the shot. Gas stations are COVERED in logos. Luckily, we were able to manage this. Note in the picture above that I’m wearing gloves– to bad I can’t do this when I’m actually shooting. The gloves are too slippery.
At the convenience store scene, Peter took an awesome shot that ended up being our movie poster:
Cool, huh? Props to Patrick Johnson, our film 2 teacher, who helped us improve the font design for this poster.
We were supposed to shoot another scene after the convenience store on Sunday, but unfortunately we had an equipment malfunction and had to stop shooting. We moved that scene to weekend three instead.
Of course, the prankster that I am, I came up with an excellent way to end weekend one. After grumbling on Saturday and Sunday about how heavy the camera was, Julian asked me “is your shoulder bruised or anything?” Ah ha!, I thought, I had just received the bruise make up for weekend two in the mail. So, I went home and completely COVERED my shoulder in a giant make-up bruise and then sent a picture to my cast and crew. Everyone was shocked. “I told you it was heavy!” I said. I think eventually everyone found out it was make up, but I got a good amount of amusement from it for the time being.
My fake bruise. Looks pretty real, huh?
That’s all for Weekend One! I’ll post about Weekend Two and Three soon.