Final day of principal photography. Yesterday was a long day and I try to sleep in, but can’t. Too many things on my mind. So, I get up, run some errands, go over my notes and prepare for tonight’s shoot. I’m dragging my butt and try to take a nap, but only manage about 10 minutes.
Fast-forward to 6.30pm. Location: Same gas station as Day 2. This time I put on even more warm clothes and as soon as I step out of my truck I notice that it’s cold AND windy. Up goes the hood of my sweatshirt! Brrr! Most of us seem a bit rough around the edges and look tired. Or maybe it’s just knowing that we’ll be here until the wee morning hours. The shot-list for today is insane – so many setups! I hope we can make it!
We start with the wide and establishing shots and I discuss the upcoming scenes with Nicolas and Joel. For my first time as a script supervisor, I sure picked the mother of continuity challenges! You’ll understand what I mean once you see this mind-bending thriller. Movies are almost never shot in sequence or linear order; and the scenes are often grouped in clusters, depending on location, availability of the actors and other logistics. I had to double-check with Nicolas several times over the last few days to make sure I really understood the script and its scenes; how they will be shot and how they are planned to be used in the final cut. Whoa. Trippy cool stuff!
In between takes, I try to take as many photos of the cast and crew as possible and record a little video of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff as well. Can’t wait to show you all the really ‘good stuff’ once it’s ok to reveal more.
At some point the manager of the gas station brings out a barrel and lights a fire in the back (far away from the pumps, heh) while we have ‘lunch’. Makes for great atmosphere and brings a little heat too ;)
We keep filming and every once in a while, other filmmaker friends of Nicolas, cast or crew stop by to say ‘hi’ and watch; or even help out a little bit. I love how this project has brought so many like-minded people together and formed new relationships and even friendships.
At some point after midnight, Nicolas asks me to follow him to the other side of the gas station because he needs my help with something. I walk with him – and find the whole cast and crew waiting, with a birthday cake and candles… What a sweet surprise! Since it’s after midnight, it is now March 13th and officially my birthday. Nzinga remembered! Thank you so much, all of you! The obligatory birthday song follows and I blow out the candles and cut the cake. Yum!
There’s not much time to waste – we need to continue the shoot hard and fast. I sprint back to the craft table to steal another bite from my plate every chance I get ;)
We’re down to the final and hardest scenes for Jonno (I assume so, from my actor’s point of view); and to pile on some more pressure, we’re also fighting a relentless enemy: Time. Daylight is looming on the horizon!
Cameras roll, Jonno does his thing. For once, I’m glad to not be in his place. I don’t know how he does it, how he gets ‘there’, but he does. The scene is difficult to watch for me (emotionally), but I have to look, to take notes. Cut! Breathtaking!
We all need a moment. Holy crap!
The last scene is upon us and it also poses quite a challenge for Afton. There is one certain shot where the FX effect has to be perfect because there is no more time to clean up and start over. It has to work. Here we go…
And it works! Success! Everybody breathes a huge sigh of relief. It is done. We are wrapped!
Clapping, pats on shoulders and hugs all around! Make-up is being removed, equipment packed away and I can hear exited but tired chatter everywhere. Sounds of metal clanging as the set gets torn down and cleaned up. We all help each other with whatever needs to get done so we can all go home. We make sure we have ways to stay in touch via phone, email and social networks. Last minute phone numbers and business cards are exchanged and one by one, we say our good-byes.
It’s definitely daylight now and I pack my things up, crank the engine and sit there for a minute, taking a private moment. I’m a little sad it’s over, but happy too, because we did it! I can’t wait to see what the end result will look like. The shoot might be over, but not post-production.
I pull out of the gas station and begin the drive home.
I hope you enjoyed my 4-part blog series about shooting a short film. As you can see, making a movie is hard work and not as glamorous as Hollywood makes it out to be. It takes a lot of dedication, passion, skill and persistence. It also brings artistic fulfillment, new friends, fond memories and so much more. Once the film is done with post production and ready to be presented to the world, I will let you all know, of course! In the meantime, you can find out more info about director Nicolas Simonin and his previous film ‘Derailed’ here.