Friday, March 4th, 2011. Crew call is at 6.30am at a hotel in Hillcrest. I arrive and see nobody I know there, yet. One of the hotel employees tells me she saw one of the ‘film people’ on the phone outside on the patio.
I turn around and see the director, Nicolas Simonin, and his wife Nzinga hurry through the lobby with armloads of food supplies. I just saw them last night at our last pre-production meeting, so no need for any long hellos and ‘what’s up’ and such – just a quick nod acknowledging each other’s presence as they head downstairs where the film set is. They’re nervous, I can tell – as am I. First day of shooting. New crew, new cast. You never know how they jive and if they work together well.
The rest of the crew arrives, lots of hustle and bustle. I meet some of the L.A. crew that I haven’t seen in person before (just via email), introductions are made and everybody is chatting while unloading, setting up and checking gear. Our lead actor, Jonno Roberts, isn’t due to arrive for at least another hour, while Scott Loska, the other actor for today’s shoot, is needed on the set earlier because of his extensive make-up. Enter Afton Adams, our make-up/FX magician. We click instantly (maybe it’s the fact that we both like wearing caps) and I find a spot for my script, binder, tea and purse in the tiny area she’s been provided to do her job. We soon realize that the airbrush fumes will quickly become a problem and thanks to the helpful hotel staff (and production manager Robert Ozeran’s and my combined efforts to speak Spanish) we find a fan for Afton.
A little later, Jonno arrives, meets everybody and gets into his wardrobe. I go over the script with Nicolas some more and we discuss a few continuity issues. Our AD Joel Boling is running back and forth, taking care of who knows how many things, all at the same time. Others grab a last bite or cup of coffee from the breakfast table and we all take a deep breath. Set is ready, crew and actors are ready.
Here. We. Go….
Slate. Rolling. Quiet on the set! Nicolas utters his first “Action!” It’s on!!!
(In this photo: Our lead actor Jonno Roberts and cinematographer Olivia Kuan)
I use an app on my phone as a stopwatch and scribble my notes as fast as I can. Another take. And another. The machinery has come alive, little adjustments here and there, and soon the rhythm of the team is humming along smoothly. Jonno and Scott are doing an amazing job, and some of the scenes are really intense. At this point my actor ‘self’ is watching with an eagle eye and I’m fascinated observing from the other side of the camera for once. I can’t help imagining how I would act out the scenes, but quickly refocus on my job at hand: making notes as a script supervisor, which is my first time doing this and I consider this a ‘trial by fire’, learning as we go. Thankfully, Nicolas has faith in me – I’ve certainly had my moments of doubt!
At one point the hotel’s firealarm goes off, right at the end of a take. For a second we wonder if we were the cause of it but find out that it was started by smoke in the hotel’s kitchen. We don’t have to evacuate and actually use the sound and strobe light of the alarm in another quick take before the staff shuts it off. Heck, why not – it might actually work for the scene, plus free special effects, right?
Ah, the glamor of making movies…try cramming into a bathroom stall, on top of a toilet (Olivia, Nicolas and yours truly)
We have our lunch break and by this time everybody is feeling more relaxed and reassured. Jokes abound, Nicolas is all smiles and the shoot is going at a good pace. Once we’re done with the scenes at the hotel, some of us pack up and head for the next set location. Judging by the hands thrown in the air and a few “Dios mio!!!” exclaimed in horror, two maids of the hotel seem pretty appalled and almost a little panicked by the mess we made. We quickly help with the clean-up before the area opens back up to the hotel guests. The two maids are satisfied and wave us good-bye with a smile. All good ;)
We arrive at the second location sometime around 5pm and film the rest of the scheduled scenes for day #1. It’s almost routine now and the shoot goes by quickly and uneventful (which is a good thing). I don’t want to get into detail here because it would risk giving away a bit too much of the plot. We have dinner provided by Nzinga and her friend Jen and try to get a second (or third) wind. It’s getting late and most of us are pretty beat. Finally, we’re wrapped for the day and we can all head home. I catch a ride with Robert, who’s also driving Jonno back to his hotel. We’re all too tired to speak and just stare out of the window into the night, no doubt re-playing the day’s events in our heads. Time to get some sleep. Tomorrow is Day 2.