Saturday, March 19, 2016

After the first day of shooting...

The day started at 7 a.m. and finished about 3:30 p.m.  I am utterly happy and exhausted.  This is a dream that I have been thinking about, and planning for, and wanting for years.

First off, everything that I have studied, read, listened to podcasts, etc. has said that casting is the director's most important activity.  It is here where the director makes the critical decision of the team.  I can only say that as it relates to this first day of shooting that Bobby and I succeeded triumphantly in determining a cast.

The female lead for Sarah is a professional mime.  I have been blown away at her ability to emote.  (show emotions on the face)  This shouldn't be surprising since, well, that's what mime's do.  They communicate non-verbally.  So, to add the voice just popped.  All of the scenes where great, but Two scenes of hers in particular really hit me today.  One was where she when she was yelling at Manfred for being a jerk and condescending.   "How can you say we'll get through our daughter being dead?"  The expression on her face read even more intently than her words which was very powerful.  I cried.  I have read those lines probably 5 or 600 times.  They are emotional to me because I have a daughter and I couldn't imaging what it would be like to lose someone who has meant so much to you; someone you have invested in whom so much.  But to hear and see these words made me quiver at how real it seemed.

Her second scene was a pretty simple one, but was pretty cool.  In the movie, in Sarah's arc, we will have a series of scenes.  She will see some of her memories both good and bad.  One particularly good memory was making cookies with her daughter.  I made cookies with Averi the night before and had them laid out on a cookie sheet.  The only instructions I told Kid Lucy (she's about 6) was that Sarah (her mom) would be taking a cookie off of the sheet and putting it on the other sheet.  She was to grab it and eat it quickly.  So, first take... Sarah pulled the cookie off and was moving it over where Lucy grabbed it and part of it fell and she caught it with her arm.  She ate it quickly off her arm before she lost it.  Sarah had a look of shock, but a happy shock when her daughter took it and then tickled her.  I said "I don't think we'll get any better than that."  Its amazing how sometimes things just work out right.

 The actor playing Manfred is incredible.  He is such a collaborator and knows his craft very well.  I said in an earlier post how he brought a different look to the character than I imagined it.  In the scene where Manfred was trying to get ready, he was able to add so much realism to the scene.  That is what he specializes in... how to get the scene to be more believable.  He also has a good comedic timing. His friend reminds him not to smell like whiskey and to use some scope.  So, rather than drinking whiskey, he takes a shot straight from the bottle of vodka. "Ahh.  Can't say that smells like whiskey".    The smell and mannerism in which he says is fabulous.

The lady we have playing the teenage Lucy character, I think stole the show.  We were doing an improv scene which basically I directed with "Sarah comes home.  Lucy has a date with a boy Sarah doesn't approve of.  Lucy doesn't Sarah stop you!"  And this interaction was powerful.  Sarah was arguing with her and you could see the stress of so many arguments in Sarah's face.  The determination in Lucy's mind that she was getting out that door.  Perfect.  The only thing I regret about it was that it is meant to be used as a scene for going down memory lane when Sarah has her breakdown, so we only recorded video; no sound.

As I figured, I was really optimistic in my estimation of how much we could get done.  However, me stating that I was optimistic, is an optimistic analysis of my scheduling.  I was way wrong.  As I said in the my post about the first day of shooting, I had four (4) important scenes (each between 4 and 7 minutes long) and seven (7) pickup shots.  I had schedule from 7 till 3 (8 hours) for the cast and crew to be there.  I had the house and wanted to make sure that we got everything we needed.  I didn't meet that target. :)

3 of the 4 critical scenes done.  The one we couldn't was because of the construction.  So, we was able to get the fateful call, Manfred getting out late, and the initial conversation they have after Lucy's death done.  Two (2) of the seven (7) pickups got done.  This may seem "not to bad" and it isn't.  But I learned a few things.

1)  Take your estimates.. double them... and add 30.  then double again
2) Spend more time rehearsing the scene prior to shooting
3) Let other people become as committed to the project as you are.
4) Talk to your actors.. EACH ONE after each take.

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