Author Topic: Tales From the Set  (Read 12220 times)

Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2010, 04:30:38 PM »

A new camera was immediately dispatched from the rental house in NJ (mind you we are shooting in NC) and will arrive by plane tomorrow morning.  We lost 3 hours of our day, and everything had been going great.  So, we have a hard, but short day tomorrow since we absolutely have to wrap out this location tomorrow night at 7pm in order to make our 7 AM Call Time.  In essence we're going to have a tough day, but it'll be a ton of fun.   The important thing is that no one freaked out, everyone handled the bad news very well, and we worked around it.  We'll figure it out and succeed no matter what, and this film is gonna be really funny, so I'm still rocking and rolling with excitement.


So you are in North Carolina. Dare I ask where.

1SO

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2010, 06:20:32 PM »
I'm going to talk down so I don't talk above anyone.

The hot meals provided at Breakfast and Lunch are provided by Catering.
The snacks inbetween - stuff like chips, cookies, sandwiches and soda - are provided by Craft Service.

Both departments provide a constant supply of coffee. A film crew drinks a lot of coffee.

Unfortunately with our show's small budget, Craft Service gets their coffee from Catering.  This afternoon lunch was over and Catering was packing up to leave.  Craft Service needed coffee, so Catering put all they had into a 10 Gallon container.  It amounted to about a pot and a half.

This is one of the many small fires that need to be dealt with all the time on a film set.

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2010, 08:05:47 PM »
Or you people could just go to bed early. Problem solved.

I'd be the worst producer ever.

CSSCHNEIDER

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2010, 09:27:55 PM »
Day 2:

GREAT Day.  For our second day we had what is most likely going to be the biggest rigging job of the whole shoot.  We had to tent off the back yard, well a portion of it, to shoot a night exterior scene at 3pm.  It looked great, and my two grips did the entire rig on their own in about 20 minutes.  It was a real solid job.  I ended up sitting around a lot today because we prepped everything so well, and 8 hours of shooting took place in a ten foot radius.

But, the triumph of the day was that the DP asked for my opinion on a something, I made a suggestion and he got really excited and told me to do it.  When he saw it, he went nuts.  Loved it.  For the rest of the day he would point at it and say things like, "Brilliant idea.  Just amazing."  Which made me feel like a million bucks.  And it was such a simple approach to solving his problem.  And even better, it was an in camera special effect of sorts, adding distance and perspective to what otherwise would have been an unfortunately flat shot.

And this brings me to today's lesson.  Filmmaking is often about thinking outside the box.  I'm sure most of you know that, but often the difference between successfully selling the simplest of effects or letting them down is about coming up wit ways to trick the minds of the audience into not thinking an effect of any kind is taking place.  The effect in question today was an incredibly common one.  Cheating an interior room as night time while shooting in the day.  Its very, very common.  Mostly you black out the windows with heavy black cloth, or trash bags if cloth is not readily available.   But our shot faced a large window, so just blacking it out would have looked cheesy.  The DP asked me to place a Kino Flo (these are essentially high tech, film Fluorescent Lights, though they are powered through a ballast to diminish the flicker of standard tubes.) unit under the window to give some sort of presence to the outside, fake night world.  We did, and it looked bad.  Not because it was a bad choice, but it wasn't the right choice for this window.  We played with the kino for a bit, and he looked at me and asked me to recommend something, cause he hated the way it looked.  I suggested we get some Christmas lights, poke some holes in a scrap piece of black cloth and push the bulbs through to give the appearance of some distant pin prick of light.  And if he used a longer lens, the pin pricks would become larger do to the ways lenses work and really feel like there is something beyond the darkness of the night.  Apparently it looked great.  Just 8 bulbs out of the 300 stand were used, and at most 3 or 4 will register on camera, but hopefully just enough to fool the world into thinking that its night outside.

It was a good day, I'm not nearly as tired as I was last night, but call tomorrow is 8AM.  I'm gonna wind down.   

I really hope these posts 1SO and I are doing are interesting and informative on what goes into making a film.  There are so many things that make up the stew of a film set. 

Next week our bigger names start showing up, and I'm really excited for it.  They are all people who sought out the project, and the fact that we got them is kind of magical, because they all waived their traditional fees and took the SAG Ultra Low budget payment, which is pennies.  Why?  Because they read and loved the script.  See, these things actually do happen!
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Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2010, 09:38:12 PM »
Fascinating story. I'm always curious at the kinds of tricks people employ to get those kinds of effects.

1SO

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #15 on: May 08, 2010, 12:37:49 AM »
Or you people could just go to bed early. Problem solved.

I'd be the worst producer ever.
The problem is that a film shoot aims for a 12-hour day.  That's 12 hours of shooting, so with a Crew Call of 6A and 30min for lunch, you're filming until 6:30PM.

However, most of the crew doesn't start at Crew Call.  The Electricians need to come in early to run cable to the generator.  Other technical departments must take precalls to unpack the truck, test and prep the equipment.  Build stuff like tenting in a backyard to simulate night.

The Cast:  Despite what you may think, Jessica Alba and George Clooney don't arrive looking like they do on film.  But we want them, ready to rehearse at Crew Call (when the Director starts).  So they come in early for Hair and Make-Up (who also come in early), as well as members of the Assistant Director department who supervise the whole operation.

And usually a filming day takes longer than 12 1/2 hours.  In fact, they more commonly take 14hrs, at which point you still don't get to go home because you have to pack the trucks and/or fill out reports.

Basically, you're looking at about 8 hours a day when you're not working.  And that's not counting the drive to and from the location.

All of which means, you better have coffee on set.

Dave the Necrobumper

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #16 on: May 08, 2010, 05:27:19 AM »
A fascinating look into making a film, greatly enjoying both your posts.

CSSCHNEIDER

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2010, 03:16:16 PM »
Sorry I haven't been able to post more updates, the fee for the internet was astronomical, so at the moment there is no internet at the crew house.  BOO!  We are all complaining about it, but really its not that big of a deal considering we work 13 hours a day.

The film continues to go well.  Tomorrow we have a 6AM-6PM day, but we add new talent to the set.  A great comedian and television star is joining us and everyone is psyched.  Apparently he was a huge champion of the script and did a lot to make this work for him and us.  Can't wait to meet him and start lighting him.

The last two days have been really, really great.  The DP now has a ton of faith in me and often defers lighting choices and ideas to me, so I'm getting to really spread my wings and try interesting things.  It may not be the best looking movie ever, but its certainly decent looking, especially considering how fast we're moving!

I had tons of stories and things I wanted to share with you all, but with using a Coffee Shop's WiFi I'm a bit limited in the scope of things I can type.  Plus, I'm sitting across from the director and don't know exactly how appropriate this is...

I got called up to be the Dolly Grip and push a number of shots on Saturday.  I've trained as a Dolly Grip in film school, and jumped at the chance to add another credit to my growing list on this feature.  It was a very simple series of moves, but it made me happy that I didn't take a number of rehearsals or takes to get the move down, in fact, it went perectly well.  (Obviously, this is a non-union gig, otherwise I wouldn't be able to do all these great things).

Suffice to say we're working hard making a good film, hopefully an incredibly funny film.

Today is our first day off, which means we've capped our first week of shooting.  Everyone is immensely happy.  None more than ElectricOtter and myself.  We're just having the time of our lives, thus far.

Oh!  And more good news! 

A feature I had the concept for, a small Mumble-Core type movie, has gained funding for an August shoot in Texas.  So, it looks like I'm going to Texas after NC to finally shoot a feature.  I'm jinxing it at the moment by talking about it this early, but I really think its going to work.  And, its based on my treatment/pitch, so I already like the idea.  How's about that?  I'm running the gamut of feature work these days.  (Writer, DP, Gaffer, Key Grip, Dolly Grip, and MORE!)
Taste is discerning, not all encompassing.

It's Not What You're Like, It's What You Like

Know the Difference Between Arts and Crafts

"Pain is Temporary, Film is Forever..." --John Milius

Winner! BFCS Iconoclast Award 2007

Sam the Cinema Snob

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2010, 04:37:20 PM »
Ohhh, Texas.

I'll probably be to lame to visit you though. Just ask roujin.

CSSCHNEIDER

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Re: Tales From the Set
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2010, 12:21:44 AM »
I have Internet!!!  The crew house finally got hooked up today and everyone is tucked away doing work, watching TV shows they've missed or just browsing.

We've had a great past week on set, everyday presents new challenges, exciting new locations and problems as well as solutions.

Yesterday was a very light day leading into having today off, our 1 day off of the week.

We did a number of traveling shots, three actors in a car driving along back roads and such, we rented a Uhaul trailer, loaded the picture car on it and towed it around some farm country.  I was given the task of rigging the car for the camera.  I've never done a car rig before, though I've seen some built.  Basically a large, heavy case was given to me, inside it contained a number of metal and steal parts that can be assembled in a number of ways to build different styles of rigs.  We just neede to mount the camera on the hood to do a three shot of all the actors.  Simple.  So, I rigged it, with the help of my grips.  Then, since I rigged it, I got to test it, meaning I sat in the car, and got driven around to see if the camera was safely secured.  It was!  Hazzah!  The camera stayed on the car hood, didn't fly off, and apparently we got the shots we needed.  I'll try to post some pictures of the rig so you can see what we were up to.

We broke for lunch, and while I was eating he DP told me some bad news, the Par Cans we ordered to mount on the front of the picture car, to augment the headlights for a night scene didn't arrive.  He asked me to improvise something.  So, I couldn't use normal movie lights, since the lowest wattage I had on the truck was 650 watts, and the battery pack we ordered to power the Par Cans was only 400 watts (200 Watts each Par).  So I dug around in my Diddi Kit and found some bare bulb sockets, sent a PA to Home Depot and had him buy a couple of Indoor/Outdoor Spot Lights.  We rigged them to the front bumper with some clamps, ran a simple extension cord to the battery pack and blamo!  The DP loved it, and it was just enough to get the shot done and looking correct.  I got a kick out of seeing the car leave with my rig mounted on the front and when it returned, they were powered and looking real cool from off in the distance in the dark.  I got to improvise a lot yesterday, and had a blast doing so.

The night before was my biggest responsibility on this film yet.  We were running two units, the main unit was shooting with actors, and the second unit was left to me to design and light a Poor Man's Process Driving Car sequence.  What this means is we couldn't afford the car towing rig we used the following day, and I had to rig up a number of lighting gags to simulate late night driving conditions while the car itself remains static.  This is a common effect, but is tricky to pull off effectively and not make it look ultra fake.

I've done a few of these in the past and had solid success.  The DP knew this and just left it to me to figure out and execute.  We lit the interioir of the car from the dash with one 3inch by 12 inch LED light Pad, to simulate a dash board radio/stereo light.  I then set up a couple shiney boards and mirror boards that are roughly 4foot by 4 foot along the sides of the car and pointed very intense yet small HMI fixtures at them.  An operator was stationed at each board and when cued during the take would pan the reflective board past the window of the car hitting the actors withe moving lights.  I also added a high intensity HMI far behind the back of the car on the ground that could be panned to simulate cars passing and turning in the distance.  It looked good, and both the DP and Director loved the way it looked and apparently the rest of the crew were really impressed considering I have limited amounts of equipment and needed to used what was at hand.  I can't wait to see the dailies of this scene to see if it in fact worked.  I think it will play fairly well.

Tomorrow is a very light day of work.  The morning is being spent with the camera operator shooting inserts and B-Roll material, then in the afternoon we'll be prerigging Wednesday's location. 

Apparently the film is incredibly funny.  I can't tell because I'm often far from set setting up the next scene or location or prepping equipment for new rigs once the main set is fully rigged and lit.  Can't wait to see it all.
Taste is discerning, not all encompassing.

It's Not What You're Like, It's What You Like

Know the Difference Between Arts and Crafts

"Pain is Temporary, Film is Forever..." --John Milius

Winner! BFCS Iconoclast Award 2007