152 – Shooting a Short, Day Two

the google image results for "filmmaking" are really silhouette-y.

the google image results for “filmmaking” are really silhouette-y.

After an exhausting day on the set of my friend Jason’s short film (which I still won’t name in the body of this review because I don’t think the statute of limitations is up on that fire we started), we came back to Tarzana for our very ambitious, 3 and a half minute take. With that out of the way we would have no problem wrapping up principal photography on this mother.

With a call time of 11 am, I was pretty sure I would have the energy to get through today without anyone seeing the crotchety old man who lives in my heart. But despite a satisfying and relaxing breakfast, when I finally got to set, it didn’t take long for me to lose almost all interest. Here’s the thing: a long tracking shot like the one we were attempting requires a lot of technical preparation. The lighting needs to be right without being obvious, the blocking needs to be perfect, and the actors need to be mentally prepared.

Most of the day was taken up by the first thing. We worked on blocking a little, but the prep work was most important. I’ll fully admit that I was neglecting my own prep work – I was annoyed and bored; channeling my inner diva, who I guess lives next to that old man.

And then, just when we were about to start shooting, something interesting happened. The police showed up. A neighbor had called them because someone (me) had been yelling that they were going to “blow someone’s head off.”

The police hung around for a while, and – as the necessary sun transitioned from ascending to descending – we all started to wonder if we were going to be able to shoot at all.

The police left us with the decree that we could rehearse all we wanted, but we could not press record, so we just decided to rehearse with a camera pointed at us. (That’s “rehearse” with a winkie face attached, in case you were curious). In the end I think the added pressure was exactly what we needed – the two rehearsals that we did went really well (remember: that winkie face). We had to avoid overthinking everything because we had no other choice, and what we ended up with looks really good – or I assume it would have if we had been able to shoot (winkie).

With that done, there was just a couple more shots to get and we were done. It was actually a really positive experience. I don’t know if it was the order of operations, the fact that I had more to do, or just the adrenaline from possibly getting shut down, but today was a lot of fun. Once we finally got going. If yesterday was a reminder of why I don’t do this more, the second half of today stood as testament to the fact that I should do it more often anyway.

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