Behind The Camera
The hardest part of making film is punching out the little holes.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Sans Vie - Week 2
This was to be our last 3 days at the apartment location so we had a hard out Sunday night. We also had pickups to get from the previous weekend, these mostly being the reverse angles of Jolie’s interaction with the garbage man. This was scheduled for first thing Friday evening and the call was at 5:00 PM. We were limited by the amount of time the sun was going to be out since these were day interiors and we had about 5 setups to complete the scene. Matt and Stephan were going to show up at 2 to move about the apartment getting various cut away shots of architectural features and the close ups of the garbage man’s machine. This however failed because Stephan could not make it due to other commitments. But we soldiered on. We were lit and ready to go about 5:30 but the cameras did not roll for another hour or so, so we only got maybe two setups until we lost the daylight and had to postpone the rest of the pickups till later. The rest was getting night shots of Jolie in her bedroom at night. There were some great shots directly over her bed where Mark and I at exactly the same time came up with the camera rig solution to get the lens in the proper position. We took a couple of apple boxes on end and spanned the bed with a 2x4 weighted down with sand bags and place two of the tripod legs on this rig gaffer taping them down and extending the rear leg to get the level. The shot looked great and we had it rigged in about 3 minutes. There was also a shot of Jolie crossing the bedroom and entering her bathroom where we did your classic click on the light gag with a baby baby in the hall since that was where the door led to. Matt really wanted a dark room with just a bit if light on Jolie but camera complained about lack of volume and we struggled with a couple of rigging ideas before we finally just used bounce using a baby baby and a Tweenie off the ceiling with just a bit of shadow. All in all not perfect but when we stopped it down it looked good enough. Thus was the end of Friday.
Saturday had an 11 AM call and was going to be a really rough scene with Paige and Jolie eating. This was an emotional scene as Paige is really trying to get Jolie to come out and she almost succeeds until she touches Paige’s hand and Paige tosses her out. I won’t go too much more into the action but when we shot this stuff there were tears on the set. Dixi and Melissa did an amazing job. Mark Shapiro once told me that we get all these people, crew, production and talent, together for just one thing, shoot the performance. If you don’t get the performance you have wasted everyone’s time. WE worked very hard and things got a bit tense trying to keep the production moving along but in the final analysis, no one’s time was wasted. Again, I say, the performances were amazing.
But before we could get to shooting this we had to catch up on our pickups get some more bedroom stuff and get some cutaways of the fish, Mr. Happy.
Like I said Call was at 11 and we did not roll camera until after 1. We were lit and ready by 11:45.
We did spend a lot of time messing around and this was due to the fact that we did not have a 1st AD worth a shit. Matt had to be available to handle those kinds if decisions and the guy that should have been doing that job, was just ineffectual. So my struggle throughout the weekend was trying to keep from repeated relights and to try to keep from a technical standpoint the show moving. Day Night facing the windows or facing the door. This all became rather trying and I don’t blame Matt it is actually kind of how it is. And somehow we managed to struggle through. Now Matt wanted the dinner scene to be “Warm” Mark and I thought about it and mark came up with the idea that since this was supposed to be intimate and sort of sensual that we would us a Cross Back Lighting scheme.
Basically we put two Baby Babys in the corners and focused them into opposite corners creating a cross lighting. Flood em out and use the top barn doors to cut the light on the walls down to about 2/3rds so when the actor enters the room standing the light is about midriff to the floor and they sit into the light.
The intent was to create a sort of intimate setting that I think actually worked pretty damn well. Yea Mark. Matt wanted more warmth so we added the Tweenie to bang off the bounce card on the ceiling to add some fill. This bothered me since we had this great sense of shadow and light and suddenly it was becoming TV Sitcom lighting, the bad kind that is shot on Video. In reality it worked out ok as we just added volume but I have not seen those dailies yet (or any for that matter) But the editor is telling me everything looks great. I will be happier when I see them though.
Later on Matt told me that even though it was not exactly what he wanted Mark and I had given him art.
He was really thinking of this scene in Kissing Jessica Stein. But I think the warmth of this scene really comes from the depth and layers of lighting of the room and Jolie’s apartment is just too stark to pull that off.
Here are a couple if still camera shots of the lighting pointing at the door Thought these are not exactly what the Camera got you get the idea.
Sunday was more of the same and we went a bit deeper that Matt had wanted to but we managed to finish in the location and were able to wrap out. We had some kitchen shots and more living room stuff and a scene where we see Paige enter the doorway of Jolie’s apartment finally ending with a Matt Morris signature scene, the Paige having a breakdown in the bathroom, which by all accounts came off really well. I was busy wrapping out what I could and being a sensitive scene we just stayed away.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Sans Vie - Sunday
So Saturday we finished up the Hallway stuff and we moved into Jolie's apartment. This was all to be shots of the garbage man showing up in the morning with his big device and telling Jolie she needs a cat. The actor we got for the garbage man was a guy from work who visually fit the role but is not an actor. I had advised Matt against that choice but he decided the the look was more important then the acting. He'll learn, actually I think he did. The point is that the scene is complex and we needed to stay on track so we could stay on schedule. The actor was just having a hard time with his lines and performance and we went through a lot of takes to get to the point where Matt needed a meeting and some ideas as how to overcome this and get the performance and the scene. We gave him some ideas including, Not using a made up language but let him speak english, and Marks Idea of singing the dialog and ADR later. What they did do was give him a couple of beers at lunch and then finally got a decent performance out of him. But by this time we were way behind schedule and had to cut a lot of the cut aways of him running his garbage machine, The Sten Creasy 200 or something like that. You can see it behind me in the photo. We also lost our daylight so we had to put off getting the reverse angles of Jolie responding to his action. All said and done it was a good weekend and we were only a little behind schedule. But the pickup shots were adding up and we needed to keep moving.
As for the lighing of the room for this daylight scene we kept it pretty simple.
We mounted 4x4 squares of whit card at opposite corners of the room at the top of the wall and the ceiling so as to create a sort of parabola and then depending on the angle of the camera would bounce the 2K off the opposite corner for general volume and then fill with a 1 K directly into the other
As noted in the diagram. We then shaped the light as needed but since it was daylight we really did not have to do too much of that. WE ofcourse had 1/2 blue on The lights and covered the windows with 3-ND. WE also had a 1 K burning in the hall to light that portion. You can see the general effect from the Photo at the top of the post and all in all it worked out pretty well.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Happy Anniversary Baby
Today marks the 15th anniversary of when Lorraine and I were married. Lorraine makes a much better post on the subject but I need to say that if given the opportunity to do it all over again, I would not hesitate.
In the words of the bard Ralph Cramden, “Baby, you’re the greatest”
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Please bear with me as I have lots to say but the day job is taking up much time. new pictures too.
This is what I have Coming;
Week one Sunday We start to get to the meat of the story
Week Two Cool lighting
Friday, September 15, 2006
More Fortune Hunters Shots
Thom Harp, the director of Fortune Hunters, sent me these shots yesterday so i thought I would post them up
This is me at the local Fox affiliate where we shot a news caster.
Finally a decent shot of Neil Holcomb. he is the guy behind the camera. Todd the 1st AD is to the left and Tamia is on the right. the News caster is Christine Chen.
This is the whole crew, Why am I the only one not smiling. The spouse hates that about me.
Here is a shot of 1st AD Todd being...disturbing at best.
And finally a shot of Gedde Watanabe as Mr. Yu.
More on Sans Vie later.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Sans Vie - Weekend 1 Friday and Saturday
We were scheduled to shoot Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday down in George Town. And By golly that is what we did. We arrived on Friday evening about 5:00 and I got notes from Matt for the first setup. Basically we were going to shoot all the hallway stuff first. Once Mark and I got our bearings straight we were able to light in pretty short order. At this point I would like to mention that we got almost an exactly perfect package for the show at least lights wise. We have 3 Baby Baby which are 1 K Fresnel by Mole Richardson, 1 Baby Junior which is a 2 K Fresnel and a Tweenie which is a 650 watt Fresnel. I also have my open face tungsten par photo lamps for extra stuff as needed. Mark wanted to use gel for light color so we put some ¼ orange on all the heads and it was off to the races.
The hallway is a sort of L where the short leg has a stairwell to the inside and the characters apartment doors are toward the top of the long leg to the outside. There is an intersecting hall about halfway up the long leg. So we are doing both day and night here and it is of course an interior.
I put my 2K down at the top of the stairwell aimed at the hallway wall to fill in the back ground as we were shooting at or around Jolie’s doorway. Mostly stuff or her coming out and scampering back in her jammies. We also got some great stuff of Paige coming in and smoking a cigarette sitting on the floor. So I put a 1 K on the intersecting hallway to light the middle of the hall and a 1 k at the end of the hall behind the camera (whichever direction we were shooting) to act as a key. One of the things I love about Mark is he despises a world without shadow. So we used solid flags to create slashes of light wherever we were shooting and sculpted with scrims to make it all lovely.
That was the basic lighting for the halls. Once we got it, it was pretty easy to recreate and we simply had to dial it in for each shot. For the stuff with Paige smoking we had to play the Tweenie off a bounce cared cut way down to fill her in but hey that’s why we got the light to begin with. And the open face tungsten lights that I own worked great with full orange as a room light for when the doors open and we needed the splash of light.
We then moved the crew down to the stairs to shoot a hall scene at the top of the stairs where a man with a prosthetic device that gets jammed at the top of the stairs drops his groceries. Jolie refuses to help. We wrapped out about 11 PM which was right when Matt said he was going to wrap and we had every thing we needed except the reverse of Jolie at the top of the stairs.
Saturday was more hallway stuff with lots of movement and a cool scene of Paige and two of her hipster friends going out for the evening. Paige stops to get Jolie to come out with her but Jolie again refuses.
They leave and come across a dead guy being tended to by paramedics in another apartment. Dead guy showed up two hours late but it all worked out in the end. We put some minus green on the Tweenie and just gave his face a sort of greenish tone.
We also used a jib that Stephan had brought to pretty good effect. We wrapped at 11:15 and lunch was provided by some Costco people. It was delicious, Fajitas and beans. Home made.
Mark and Matt and I sat up drinking beer and yakking till late and I got home about 2:30 AM but Sundays call was not till 11 so there we go.
I’ll stop here and Post about Sunday tomorrow.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
No pix just yet just a line as I am exauhsted and need my sleepy byes for the day job. I'll give a rundown as with Fortune hunters. I Found enought circuits including a 20 amp one so the distro issue is a non one.
More to come and I do have stills
Friday, September 08, 2006
Sans Vie - The Drama Begins
So we start shooting tonight and we scouted the location for the next two weeks on Sunday. The space is perfect and Matt did a great job of waiting to find the right spot. It is in an old building down in George Town by Boeing field that is being renovated into affordable artist’s lofts. It’s really cool and funky. There is even a chopper shop down stairs. The location is perfect for the main action.
Except for one minor detail, there are no electrical outlets yet wired to the rooms we are going to be using. We discovered this on Sunday. But not to worry, Eric the juicer has the solution. There is an Electrical service box of about 125 amps that holds all the new breakers for the floor. We just need to get some distribution cable and connectors and tie right into the service. Or at least that’s what we would have done 15 years ago. Basically it works like this, in your electrical service there are 3 bus bars behind the breakers. The two outside bars are each carry 110 potential voltage and the middle one is known as the neutral. So your circuit goes from the neutral out to the wiring and back to the other Left or Right or rather in juicer parlance Red leg or blue leg. The white leg is neutral. So what you would do is take these clamp connectors and clamp one onto each of the busses. The connectors have a receiver about ¼ in in diameter that accepts a pin from the cable we called Banded. The image above is Banded but not the old style connectors this is using a cam lock connector. These came in 50 foot lengths of 3 4/0 cables with a male and a female end color coded Red Blue and white. You also had what were called 3fers that were one male pin that sprout 3 female pins in a sort of a Y. These were also color coded so you could tie into the service and run your power and split it off as needed. To get the 110 you needed in you added another cable called a 4 hole that connected in the same way that ended in a box about the size of a toaster that had two holes about 3” by 4” that accepted a male paddle that connected to a duplex box of regular Edison electrical outlets. Each side providing 110 power supply AC. There were also 2 hole cables for extending further and special ones that provided 220. Wire this all together and you had power anywhere you needed it limited only by the rating of the service. This was also more commonly used for hooking up to a big ass generator. Now I knew that the actual bits have changed since then due to changes in code. That is fine the theory is still the same but I needed to see the stuff to make the proper order from Pacific Grip and Electric.
This in mind I arrived at the day job at 6:30 AM to Leave at 3:30 in order to get to Seattle and finalize our grip / electric order and get a look at how the new bits fit together. Now I called Norbert to talk to him about it but he did not understand that my experience was all old school and I had left the trade just before these new distro bits had hit the streets, completely out of my experience. But He helped.
I also had to reaffirm our order was correct and after much go around with Matthew we agreed on the stuff we needed and I was going to call Stephan to make sure the stuff he said he was bringing was actually going to make it, C Stands and Flags.
So Off I go and I am making great time across the bridge and I get to MLK knowing full well that they have it torn up for the new light rail system but the traffic still flows and I did after all allow myself extra time. Then suddenly traffic comes to a standstill. So it turns out the light at Othello was out and they were having cops direct traffic. So I call Stephan and find out the grippy stuff he was bringing was actually another guys and the other guy was not going to show. So I had to adjust the order to PGL. And while I was in the middle of this discussion traffic starts to move and I start to move and my Jeep dies. Not to restart. I limp to the side of the road and Call AAA. Now all my plans are fuckered and I decided to move forward and call PGL to update and confirm the order.
So as I am talking to Ray at PGL I am explaining that I was coming down to see how all the new distro fit together and I started by mentioning the Clamp Adaptors. Guess what? Those have been illegal in the state for about 15 years. Now he only rents Bare Wire Tie in and to do that you need to attach a huge ass breaker to the service and then attach the bare wire tail to that. So now we are really fuckered. I have No good power supply for the lights. What to do? I tripled my Stinger (heavy duty extension Chords) order and hope like hell we can find at least 4 separate 15 amp circuits to run our lighting on Saturday.
What a great start.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I got the game The Movies a few months ago and it is a hoot. this is my latest masterpiece Gluey
Dont forget to vote
Edit For Yasamin my other reader
You need the Windows Media, and ActiveX plugins to stream movies. View this Mozilla Knowledge Base article for an installation and troubleshooting guide.
Vacation, Now work SIGH
OK I am now back at my cube after a lovely five day respite. And I have been heads down slaving away so I thought I would come up for air and make a quick post. If for no other reason then to force that scary photo of a 70s pop star gone to seed.
We start primary photography of Sans vie this Friday and that is exciting. It is good to work with Mark and Matt has gotten his shit together and found a decent location for the bulk of the show.
Unfortunaley there are no functioning outlets in the set so we are going to have to tie in to the Bus Bars on the circuit breaker that feeds that floor and I have to remember to call the electricion about shutting the power to that service. But thats cool I have done it before it has just been a while.
More next week on the shoot coming up.