Monday, August 09, 2010

Weekend Review

Friday and Saturday, I was on location from 6am - 6pm on an independent short film entitled Raymond & Lina (Working Title). This time, I was the Assistant Director (AD) which for a very limited budget flick meant that I was a cross between Assistant Director (note not assistant to the director)/ production assistant/ location manager/assistant camera/ art director/ and whatever else was needed. Granted, the very small crew did pitch in and help each other out anyway that was needed.
It was really fun and tasking. The kind of stress that I like because you are constantly having to think and creatively too. For example, for about two weeks, we had been looking for a grocery store to shoot in. Well, in the United States, most grocery stores are part of a huge chain and any and all permissions have to go through their corporate office which means endless calls during which you get rerouted through a series of automated answering machines and office workers who either do not have any comprehension of what you mean when you say that you need a location release to allow a small crew of less than ten to come in and shoot for forty five minutes in the feminine produce aisle. This search and process, the tireless producer and myself had to do for over a week only for us to get responses weeks later from secretaries telling us that their bosses say that they needed a week to have been able to make a decision...the same week that we had given them anyways; but I digress.
So, we find this old store called Sniders in Silver Spring; a small Jewish owned food place and we are given an answer in less than twenty four hours but with the stipulation that we start filming at 7am on Saturday morning before their customers start to arrive at 8 am. We say, "No problem" and set a call time for 6.45 am. We drag the entire crew over to the location, the manager and staff welcome us into the space graciously, we unpack equipment and gear, head inside, ask for the feminine products aisle and are informed with the same gracious smile that unfortunately, there isn't one. There is also no aisle with paper products e.g. coloring books, pencils, crayons, pens etc. For a scene that requires the lead male to go shopping for his granddaughter whom he suddenly has to take custody off, we NEED these two aisles

But, never fear, we have a team of creative people. The DP (Director of Photography) switches to a close up lens. The manager of the store goes to his office and brings out stacks of phone books, we raid all the cars for old magazines, empty a portion of an aisle where cooking utensils are being shot and change the entire shot to a close up. This is for Scene II where the lead picks up coloring materials for his granddaughter. Luckily, we had purchased a coloring book as a prop to be used in a later scene, so we just placed it on the stack of phone books, making it look like there were hundreds of coloring books and went ahead.

For the scene with the feminine products, it was supposed to be that the grandfather would come across two teenage girls trying to buys some pads and tampons serving as a preview of the years to come as his granddaughter is now only eight. He would be a bit freaked out and exit the aisle quickly. We had no feminine products aisle but we had cleaning supplies, like tissues, kleenex and some other products. So the DP, looses focus on the items, tightens the shot on the two teenage girls and their conversation, someone produces us two packs of pads, we decide on close ups of the grandfather's face as opposed to a more wide shot of him fleeing and we are done.

Took us over an hour cos we originally had to figure out a way around the issue. But it was fun. We were all happy and we all helped in one way or the other. I also served as an "extra wrangler" because when we started some people had come into the store to shop and naturally where curious so myself and one of the key grips had to make sure that if they walked past on camera, they did not stop to look in. Or suddenly appear on frame. That way, they would not have had to sign a talent release form, allowing us use of their image.

This was just on one location.

We had ten location changes and more than fifteen scenes and forty different shots.

What did you do this past weekend?

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