The film shoot is finished! It was a nerve-wrecking nail-biter leading up to the shoot date last Saturday, and then it was a race to finish filming! I can’t believe we did it! It all actually happened, we pulled it off! Ok, let me start from the beginning (I’ve had a week to let it all sink in and finally update this blog)…
The shoot dates for my short film ‘The Appointment‘ were set to be November 8th and 9th ever since pre-production started. Everything was coming along as planned, cast and crew were set and ready to go…except the location. We were frantically looking for alternatives up until Wednesday, 4 days before filming was supposed to start, but my heart was set on this one location ever since I laid eyes on the photos of that particular mansion, especially the interior.
The property owner was out of town and his real estate agent told us that filming there was most likely a GO, but we needed to wait until he got back and get confirmation…there are people living there, after all. Wednesday we got it and we set up a walkthrough for the next day, Thursday. BIG PHEW!
The location didn’t disappoint… as a matter of fact, it was better than we could ever dream of, and the main room was almost ready to go. It just needed a few minor touches like a painting and some furniture getting switched out, and some props added! Lucky for my set designer Jose Iturriaga, who by that time was ready to have a coronary, because he didn’t have anything to go on until Thursday to plan out the final touches.
There was just one caveat to all of this….instead of filming there for two days, we only had permission to use the location for ONE day! Yep. So, my co-director Jared Jacobsen and I did some last minute trouble shooting of the scene blocking, arranging the shot list and re-thinking some FX/MUA intensive ideas. A critical moment in one of the scenes had to be changed a little to save time, which turned out to be much better anyway. We got it all figured out and nothing had to be cut, amazingly enough! All I can say is: don’t be too married with every detail in your script – flexibility is KEY! Sometimes you even have a better outcome than originally envisioned.
I was thinking about blogging about the shoot in detail, like I did back when I worked on Nicolas Simonin’s “Vincent” (now called ‘Seizures’), but I thought it might be more interesting to do a list of “best of ” or other highlights instead.
Biggest lessons learned:
Have faith, follow your gut, trust that you picked the right people. Don’t micromanage. Know what you want, but be open to suggestions, welcome ideas. Be flexible and be willing to let go of pre-conceived ideas that are simply not feasible or no longer necessary. Work with what you have. Make the best of it. Take a deep breath. Also, secure your location earlier if you want to be able to get any sleep the week before the shoot ;)
Most surreal moment:
Seing the cast and whole crew arrive, unloading and setting up all their gear in the early morning. I remember thinking: “Whoa, all these rad people, all that stuff!!! They all showed up and brought all this…for lil’ ole me? For my project? Am I dreaming?” I almost had to pinch myself. I am so lucky to have all these people in my life!
Filming made possible in the first place by Stephen Mickelsen (center) of Bad Cat Films
Having my friend and filmmaker Jared Jacobsen co-direct. There’s no way I could have pulled this off without him sharing my vision and taking such care of my little baby. Having him to bounce off ideas and troubleshoot last minute changes was crucial. It was also my first time directing, duh. He also made it possible for me to step into my character and focus on the acting part. I’ve worked with him on previous projects and having seen how he can handle even the toughest challenges, I knew he’d be the perfect guy for the job. He deserves all the kudos in the world!
Co-directing and acting in every scene…there’s not much time for anything else. I think I ate one banana, some M&M and grabbed a few bites of some rice dish before we packed up at end of day. I didn’t even get to tweet and instagram, as I had planned! The demand for full concentration for so many hours at a stretch was intense for sure! I wound up using my little ipod whenever I had the chance (mostly, when ‘standing in’ for myself, heh..) to tune out the crazy hustle and bustle and focus on my character. It was more useful than I could have ever imagined and it kept me sane enough. That, and as mentioned above, Jared being my co-director.
Best safe of the day:
Michael Ledoux, who initially volunteered as PA, but stepped up to the plate and filled in as script supervisor as well. My original scripty called me the night before the shoot and had to bow out due to being down with the flu. (He sounded horrible, poor dude). Crisis averted, Michael was ON it! His motto: “Make it a great day“. He did.
Most impressive feat:
Finishing what was supposed to be a 2-day shoot in one day – all thanks to the best crew I’ve ever worked with… a well-oiled machine. I can’t believe how well everybody worked together. No divas, no egos, none of that stuff. Each one of them had a vital role in making this happen and they didn’t just ‘show up’ – they all went the extra mile. Wanna know what an utterly fierce, committed and professional crew looks like? Like this! Same goes for the cast: prepared and ready to go, saving us countless re-takes. All rockstars!
…and the McGuyver Award goes to:
Elsa Mickelsen – Production designer, on-set photographer, wardrobe goddess, genius finagler of things. Even though I had added inlays and even a grippy thingy inside my high heels, they were still giving me trouble as my heel kept slipping out when walking.
Elsa came to the rescue and her trickery frigging worked like a charm! I was finally able to strut my stuff with confidence. Ah, Elsa… always making sure I looked like a lady and spoiling me by making me feel like a superstah! I could get used to this. I still kinda expect her to pop up behind a couch somewhere with her camera
Feel-good moment of the day:
This is one of those moments that actors hate and I’ve been guilty of it, too: Finding out that one of the actors got the role as a favor or because he/she is a friend or family. Well, GUILTY! One of our friends, Billy Colestock, who is not an actor, was so into this film thing once he heard about my project, he kept bugging me and asking if he could be in it. I told him all the roles had been cast and, no offense, he wasn’t an actor. He didn’t give up and persisted, so…I found a tiny part for him. And he nailed it. Hmm..persistence does pay off! The best part is, once he arrived on the set and saw how professional it all was and he got his mic put on, there were literally stars in his eyes! It was such fun to watch him get his kicks. He said being in a film was on his bucket list and now he could scratch that off. Glad to help out!
Well, there you have it. The story so far. We are now in post-production. Forging ahead!
Next up: meeting with the editor. Stay tuned!