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Sunday, December 12, 2004

Day 5 recap

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be editing the film as much as I can, so instead of detailing that, I’ll be catching up on the daily recaps.

DAY FIVE (Saturday, October 9)
Location: Stockbridge Citgo / the garage
Today is the day we shoot all of our dialog scenes at the garage. I have shot lists for each scene, but on location those often get drastically changed. Looking at the script for a particular scene, I plan for an establishing wide shot, close ups for certain lines and dolly moves to get the characters from one side of the garage to the other, etc. When we get to the garage and start blocking with actors, we invariable start running up against limited amounts of film and time. What I usually end up with is an establishing shot that dollies into a 2 shot for dialog and maybe a cutaway or reverse angle. Maybe. The fewer shots, the fewer setups, the faster we can move. For the really long dialog scenes, we dolly along with the actors in the classic walk ‘n’ talk, then have them stop walking when we run out of track. It’s these times where I have to find the critical elements of a scene and accent those and drop everything else. And I won’t know how successful I was until the whole film is put together. All an indie director can do is get the best crew and the best actors they can find and hope it works, hope that they made the right compromises.

The most complicated scene for the day is where Theodora meets Hector. Actor Travis Young was cast as Hector exactly one week ago, but I’m not worried about the actor’s performances. They’ve worked together before and they rehearse on-set incessantly up to the time we shoot. In this scene, Hector is toying with Theodora, only doling out information bit by bit to extend their interaction. She eventually get pissed and is about to storm out, when he starts singing one of her songs, the theme song of the movie. He just keeps singing, rather poorly, and smiling at her until she is charmed. Travis and Claire’s performance is great. I can really feel Theodora’s frustration and Travis has great eyes that really can charm anyone. We start the scene with Hector under the hood of the band’s station wagon. He doesn't come out until several lines into their dialog and crosses the garage. The camera and Theodora follow him and we end with an over-the-shoulder (OTS) shot looking at Hector. Theodora gets angry and turns to exit, right toward the camera, and stops in a close-up (CU). We’ve just covered 90% of the scene in one shot/one setup: the establishing WS, dolly to the OTS, and Claire walks into a CU for her emotional reaction. Our coverage is a Hector CU from the same camera position as the OTS and the reverse angle over Hector’s shoulder of Theodora’s dialog. The biggest hurdle is that the weather had changed and the reverse angle looking at Claire has dark, cloudy skies in the background. The grips put up a big silk on a metal frame to tone down the clouds and I hope we can color correct it to match the rest of the scenes later. We get all of our angles and move on to the next scene, next set up.

One of those setups includes Ned Hastings (out of his Skunk Ape costume) and Dana Snyder (voice of Master Shake on Aqua Teen Hunger Force) as two customers driving a classic car in the establishing shot of the Garage. I think Dana’s only line is “Thanks, we wouldn’t miss the party.” Being the consummate profession, he and I discusses at length his character’s back story and motivation, but the fact that everything that comes out of his mouth makes me laugh, I’m not too worried about it.

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