I never did sit down and write this up, so here it is now:Set Report: Day One
Last Monday was out first day of filming. I had the day off, which means I had the entire day to plan and fret and generally bounce around. I went out and bought some lights and some material to use as reflectors; I didn't think we were going to need them for this shoot (although I'm sure we'll need them later), but my general rule to live by is that I'd rather have something and not need it than need something and not have it.
I also needed a couple of things to make this "meeting" look like a meeting; a couple dozen Krispy Kremes, and some Starbucks cups. I asked my local Starbucks if I could have a half-dozen empty cups and lids, and they wanted to know why, naturally, so I told them I was shooting this little video of a meeting scene -- "just something me and my friends are going to put on YouTube," I oversimplified. "Oh, okay," was their reaction -- and I've now discovered a magic word to get supplies and assistance for an amateur film without making it seem like a big deal. YouTube sounds safe and inconsequential.
I picked up capnexposition
and the camera he was borrowing from the U-District and headed out to Bellevue. We got to our location, and almost everyone was there, so it looked like things were going well -- but I got a call from lokheed
telling me he was going to be about 45 minutes late. Was there material we could shoot without him? Well -- no, not really. But that turned out not to even be an issue, because we had a much worse problem on our hands.
We'd been issued the wrong camera -- one that didn't have the right jacks for our external microphone. That left us with three choices -- use the on-board microphone, make a trip back to the U-District for the right equipment, or scrap the whole venture and reschedule.
I didn't want to reschedule; for one thing, this was the only time lokheed
was going to be in town, and second, I was worried I'd lose momentum on the entire project if we didn't manage this first step. I also didn't want to make do with the on-board microphone -- those are always
crap, and they pick up the hum of the camera motor. The main thing that makes an amateur film seem amateur is crappy sound, and I want to avoid that at all costs.
So we waited for retcon
to make the round-trip to the U-District. He made good time, but oh, lord, it felt interminable to those of us waiting. We went ahead and broke into the donuts, realizing that dinner was still hours away.
They came back with the right equipment, and after some trouble getting it set up, came the question: where did I want the camera for the first shot?
I hate to say this. But I froze. My brain just completely locked up, faced with the prospect of actually, finally doing this.endorphan
saw the look on my face, and stepped forward and made a suggestion. It was a good suggestion, too, so that's what we did. I joked at the time that he was the "assistant director," now, but really, what that did was set the tone for a productive and creative evening where everyone
felt free to make their comments and suggestions on camera angles, line readings, everything. I hope that carries over into other shoots -- I loved the feeling of collaboration. It felt more like a drama workshop than just me poncing around being an auteur
, and I loved it.
Once we had all the technical hitches out of the way, the rest of the evening went really smoothly. My actors are great. Line fluffs and corpsing
were kept to a minimum, and no one had that stiff awkwardness that one usually associates with amateur acting.
I didn't write lokheed
's part with him in mind, but now I can't imagine having done this without him. ursako
is just as good an actress as windbourne
have been telling me she is, and she really nailed the main scene that's going to sell the emotion of the opening. She has the biggest part aside from the Doctor and his companion, and after this first night, I am 100% confident she's going to be able to carry it off. And endorphan
was a real pleasure to work with, as well -- it was really gratifying to watch him go through a read-through that seemed really off to me, then give him just a few words of direction, and then watch him turn around and give me exactly
the performance I had in my head when I wrote those lines.
It's an amazing feeling to watch all this coming to life in front of my eyes. I can't wait for our next shoot.
Thank you so much
to everyone who was there and made this happen, and thank you to georgmi
for getting us such a great location. I can't even tell you all how much this means to me.