Tag Archives: movie set

Making Arrangements – Day Two

It’s a big day. We’re shooting the party scene where Bill throws himself a going away funeral party… twenty extras in the yard, around the pool, food and drink flowing… outdoor shooting so we deal with wind noise, sun, and…. rain? Last night it rained hard. What’s the location going to be like?

On arrival, it was kind of cloudy and cool… we’re on a 14 acre farm (Glen Alba Gardens), top of the mountain… so we should be above any weather, we hope, but tough to tell what to expect. Our “So Long Bill” banner that we’d set up near the pool yesterday has been ruined by the wet weather overnight… sagging and tearing. It looked good in yesterday’s shots, the post-party scenes… so we’ll just have to shoot away from it today. Art department (Antonia Gunnarson and Summer Lange) can make me another to hang on the house, for the reverse angles… so they set to work getting the set dressed, and another banner made.

We asked everyone to bring hawaiian shirts, and we provided leis, and drink cups with little umbrellas. It’s a festive set, and as the sun breaks, everyone’s in a good mood. Of course our start is late… we waited for the sun and now that it’s broke, it’s almost too sunny. I of course wore a long sleeved black thermal – I’m overheating. No scrims, so we deal with direct sunlight… our PA’s hover around the actors with umbrellas to keep the sun off them and salvage their hair and makeup.

Turbo and his crew, by the way, are an amazing hair and makeup team… what dedication. Everyone looks great.

Once the party scene gets under way, Art Department will retreat to our next location, an indoor lodge room with a very cool stone fireplace, and start work on making it look like Kayla’s apartment.

Meanwhile, the shoot progresses… not nearly as many extras as we expected have shown up, so any crew not working are drafted as party goers… my wife, daughter, hair and makeup, anyone not holding a bounce card or boom is in front of the camera.

We get a great jib shot, rising up off the blue pool water to reveal the party under way… people milling about, chatting, drinking… our new “So Long Bill” banner on the house was too rushed to be completed properly – the letters are just outlines, not solid black, so it’s kind of hard to read in the blasting sunlight. I’m worried about that… the reveal on that banner is what starts this scene off with some humor, so it’s kind of critical that it’s easy to read. Ah well, we’re burning daylight… make it work.

We move in to some mediums and singles as Bill and Cassie chat with Bill’s work buddies, Lou (Linda Pearson) and Sandy (Char Johnston). There’s a little business where Lou hands Bill a beer, and Cassie crosses to grab a bottle of water, and returns to Bill’s side to swap it with the beer (he’s a sick man, she doesn’t want him drinking). It complicates the scene, and comes back to bite us later (in editing), but everyone does a great job, we get the shots off and move to the next scene.

Now it’s time for Bill to chat with his guitar teacher Terry (Carlo Matteucci), who has come to the party with a date (Kayla). Everyone’s standing in full sun, and again, no scrims… a little squinting going on, but everyone toughs it out. Everyone pitches in, and extras who aren’t on camera are holding bounce cards. Again, we’ve got some business with a handshake/bump between Terry and Bill, Terry hands Bill a beer and they clink and toast… lots going on in a short scene. Maybe too much. The shooting style I’ve chosen for the movie demands some long takes with few cutaways, so we don’t spend much time getting inserts on the action… it needs to be choreographed for mostly medium shots. We get through it, pick up some reverses just in case, and one critical single on Kayla. This is really her scene… it’s the first time we see her, and though she has no lines, we have to see that she’s fascinated by Bill’s take on his impending demise… she’s a mystery girl. I hope we got the shots to bring that home. I think we did.

In between shots, while makeup touches people up, Our awesome DP Matthew Galvin works the steadicam, picking up little party scenes, inserts of people chatting and drinking, the blender going.

Finally we’re done outside. Before we retire indoors to shoot the apartment set, we break for lunch… the folks at the location are also providing craft services, and they’ve set up the patio with tables and an array of truly awesome food. Everyone is well fed, and we just relax and hang out for an hour. Many thanks go out to all the extras and volunteers… it was a good morning.

After lunch, we’re inside. The room is long… maybe twenty five feet, and twelve feet wide. At one end is the fireplace – very cool, rustic stone. We need the room to feel smaller… it’s supposed to be Kayla’s apartment. We start with the set (couch, side tables, coffee table) at the far end, away from  but facing the fireplace, and set up equipment facing the couch. We get all those shots, then slide all the furniture toward the fireplace and shoot the reverses over their shoulders, toward the fireplace… makes the room look much smaller and intimate, leaves plenty of room for crew and equipment.

Again, we’ve got business… coffee cups, binders and brochures to leaf through… It’s a romantic, intimate scene… the proprietors started a nice fire in the fireplace, our lighting is moody (we depended largely on practicals here) and again, very subtle stuff going on. It’s the moment Bill decides where to take his relationshiop with Kayla… If I tell you too much more I’ll be spoiling some plot points, but trust me, the scene looked great. Art Department did a great job creating a home in the room, and our actors really worked it out.

Again, we wrapped ahead of schedule – even with our late start waiting for the clouds to clear. Everyone stayed after to help break down the set, load up all the equipment, props and set dressing (including furniture), and we left Glen Alba Gardens looking just as it had when we arrived (I hope… at least, we haven’t had any complaints).

Tomorrow, we’re on location in downtown Santa Cruz, where we’re using some empty offices in “The Mill” – the building where Turbo runs his cosmetology school.

Time for some sleep.

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Making Arrangements – Day One

Day one of shooting Arrangements.

Today we’re on location at Glen Alba Gardens. Figgered we’d keep it pretty simple, and do all the interiors… They’re pretty easy setups, only a few actors, and we can control light and sound so it’s an easy way for the crew to find its mojo since we haven’t all worked together before. Besides, it’s threatening to rain.

We started with the scene at the front door… Kayla comes to visit Bill. Gina (as Kayla) rocks the performance with some very subtle stuff, Chad (as Bill) is great too. It’s kinda complicated, since the reverse on Bill from outside shoots all the way through the living room and out a picture window to the backyard, where we can see his wife Cassie cleaning up after the party. So I’m directing action at the door, as well as action fifty feet and two walls away simultaneously. We got some funny outtakes, where on “action” the folks in the backyard didn’t know we’d started and were gesticulating a “when do we start” signal during the scene – ah, my kingdom for a set of walkies. But we got the scene off, both setups, including a nice subtle jib shot as the huge moving guy shows up to pick up the tables…  makes a truly huge guy look even huger. Huger? Is that a word? Ah, it is now…

Anyways, the rain is threatening, it’s getting cloudy, cold and moist… we’re done with all the stuff at the door, and manage to get to the kitchen scenes. Bill is sitting at the table, alone, while outside the window we can see Cassie cleaning the yard… again, directing two locations at once with no walkies, but it worked. A simple scene, no dialog, but lots of subtlety in Chad’s performance.

Then, on to the conversation (different story day, different wardrobe) that Bill and Cassie have at the same table. It’s a tough scene to get right… again, very little dialog, but it’s the early scene that sets up everything we need to know about Cassie as a character, and their relationship – against which the audience will measure all their other actions through the rest of the movie. So it’s gotta be on point.

We had shots we needed to get pointing at the window, and reverses pointing away from the window into the kitchen hallway. We made the mistake of starting with the shots away from the window… so, at the end of the shoot, we were pointing toward the window, and racing the light as it got darker and darker outside. The darker it was outside, the more of a mirror the big window became, so of course we struggled with avoiding reflections of the crew standing around watching… but we managed it. The outdoor angles are darker than I might have liked, but in the end it adds to the mood, so it works. Both Chad and Kimberly (as Cassie) gave us great performances, and I think it’s really touching.

Believe it or not, we finish ahead of schedule and get everything we wanted. Damn! What a great crew.

It’s ready to rain – in fact it’s starting – and tomorrow we’ve got a big exterior shoot…. 20 extras, a pool party, barbecue… weather.com shows it’s clearing, so fingers are crossed.

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